Sunderland can guarantee Premier League survival with victory over Everton on Wednesday.
Big Sam has masterminded a superb recovery with the Black Cats after they’d slumped to the foot of the table following his first game in charge and were then thrashed 6-2 by their opponents here in his third. A win here though and they will have achieved safety with a game to spare and will have the added bonus of relegating rivals Newcastle at the same time.
While one manager is being celebrated for what he’s done another is fighting for his job. But while Roberto Martinez might be desperately trying to improve the Toffees’ form he’s certainly not getting much help from his players. Another defeat here and Martinez may not even be in charge for the final day, with both the crowd and the dressing room appearing to have lost faith in the former Wigan boss. One win and five defeats in their last nine games, as well as an FA Cup semi-final exit, have seen a decidedly average season turn into a poor one and with so much talent at their disposal Everton have been one of the biggest underachievers this term. Their away form had been one of their biggest pluses but that has also fallen apart as they’ve scored twice in their last five road games while picking up only two points.
In contrast to some of Everton’s efforts Sunderland have been full of commitment and their only defeats in their last 20 games have all come against teams currently in the top nine. However, they’ve not found it easy to turn draws into wins and given two points from their final two games will be enough to survive they look a bit short at 1.75. Everton may be on a slide they’ll struggle to stop but remember they’ve gone W4-D6-L0 on the road this season when excluding trips to the top eight and certainly have the ability to avoid defeat.
The Toffees have struggled defensively in recent weeks but Seamus Coleman and Gareth Barry are expected to return from injuries while Funes Mori has completed a ban. Before that James McCarthy was sent off against Palace and served a ban against Southampton, so this looks like the strongest squad that Martinez has had available in the past month and we’ll take on the prevailing opinion that the Toffees will just rollover. Sunderland have had more home draws since the start of last season than any other side while Everton have had the most away draws in the league this season so at 4.0 it looks a great price that we see another stalemate.
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