Basement club Sunderland’s plight is looking worse by the week. They are now 10 points clear from safety with just 7 games to go. If they are to get to the all important 40 game marker they are now going to have to win all of those matches to stay up.
Although their relegation has not been confirmed it is looking more and more likely with each game that passes, the job looks just too great for David Moyes to complete. Not only would they have to win all of their last 7 matches, they would have to break a run of form which has seen them fail to win in a run of the same length.
It’s looking a dismal situation on Wearside and Today they will at least look to give themselves a fighting chance of survival as they play host to a West Ham side who picked up a vital win of their own last season, one that just eases the pressure on Slaven Bilic.
For The Black Cats they were easily brushed aside by Manchester United last Sunday. A 3-0 win for Jose Mourinho’s men was earned without United really breaking a sweat. Although it must be said that the task got a lot easier after Sebastian Larsson’s sending off.
The Swedish international was given his marching orders at the end of the first half and despite many protestations by the Swede it was not going to change the mind of the referee as Sunderland then had to play the next 45 minutes with 10 men.
So incensed with the decision was Larsson that he decided to appeal it in the week, but it was a fruitless decision with the appeal failing and that now means that he will miss the next three matches. A big blow for a Sunderland side low on quality already.
Their opponents West Ham come here off the back of a crucial win over Swansea last Saturday, it was very much a 6 pointer as previous to that The Hammers had lost their last five matches and the pressure was very much on Slaven Bilic to deliver an all important win.
Thankfully for him and his employment status, the former Croatia boss was able to mastermind a win that sees the East London outfit move up to 14th and more importantly eight points from the dropzone. Realistically they need one more win to stay up this season and they will identify the trip to Sunderland as the one.
For Bilic nothing less than three points will do and you get the feeling that will also be the want from club owners David Sullivan and David Gold. It’s important that West Ham do not only stay up but also finish the season strongly as questions will be asked about Bilic’s long term future.
The same questions are unlikely to be asked about David Moyes though as Sunderland need some form of stability even in relegation. The fact that their manager turnover has been so high over the past few years is finally coming back to haunt them.
It was almost the impossible job for Moyes this season, with a club that is under funded and short on real talent. The only real pressure will come to the former Everton and Manchester United manager should Sunderland not be competing for promotion next season.
I do not like dismissing teams earlier than they should be but with Sunderland relegation is an almost certainity and you could also say the same about West Ham winning here today. The only spanner in the works is whether Jermain Defoe rediscovers his scoring form against the club that gave him his big break.
The last time West Ham were in the North East they made easy work of Middlesbrough and they will look to do the same at The Stadium Of Light. I would not bet the house on it but I would reckon that it will be an away win this afternoon.