Norwich City versus Sunderland, battle of the drop… That in essence is what this is. The Canaries are enjoying being back in the big time after a brief spell away, but their happiness could be in jeopardy come Saturday afternoon.
A remarkably average season down at the bottom of the premier league this season has left us with this matchup potentially being the only end of season relegation type drama, that could be over before it’s even begun if the Canaries find the key to victory.
If the Canaries are to find the win to put them seven points clear of their opponents Sunderland, and most probably condemn the visitors to relegation, then Dieumerci Mbokani is the man that they need to focus around. The DR Congo international is currently their joint-leading goal scorer with five (yes, five with just five games to go) and seems to be the man that comes up with the goods when it matters. Mbokani’s injury time winner over relegation contenders Newcastle two weeks ago has ignited the Canaries belief of survival.
Sunderland have been knocking on the door of relegation for a few seasons now, and if they are to experience another moment like the one at the emirates last season when they managed to keep a clean sheet and draw 0-0 with Arsenal that cemented their survival, then a victory is a must on Saturday in East Anglia. For Sunderland to achieve this feat then they will have to do something they haven’t managed to do in 450 minutes of football against Norwich… beat the Canaries.
If that wasn’t bad enough, add in the fact that the Mackems haven’t won a game since the 2-1 victory over Manchester United over two months ago. Two interesting statistics that must surely have Sunderland fans wondering if their get out of jail cards may have ran out in 2016. As premier league history can tell you, when you dance around relegation and fail to improve, then your time will come. This looks to be Sunderland’s time, but nevertheless the Mackems have still got a chance, and sometimes that is all they need.
This is must win game for Sunderland, judgement day will be upon them come Saturday. When you need to win its important that you have goal scorers in your squad, and Sunderland have certainly got that in Jermain Defoe. The former England international has had a career of scoring goals at important times, his goal at the 2010 World Cup for England in the 1-0 victory over Slovenia to gain the three lions access into the knockout rounds was one of his biggest. He is tried and tested, and with twelve goals so far this season, he is the man who can provide the Mackems with the goal that they need.