Sunderland may sit 14th in the Premier League table, but they are once again well and truly embroiled in a relegation scrap. January is set to be a big month for all Premier League clubs, and it’s imperative for the Black Cats to make sure they are extremely active in the transfer market.
It’s undoubtedly been another topsy-turvy season at the Stadium of Light – despite winning just three league games all season, Sunderland’s eleven draws have seen them stay away from the bottom three. Gus Poyet’s side currently sit three points off the drop zone, and they know everything there is to know about what it takes to stay in the top-flight.
The Black Cats looked doomed last season – as a home loss to Everton on April 12th saw Poyet’s side sit rock bottom of the Premier League table – seven points off of safety. But after a truly remarkable run of incredible results, including wins over Chelsea, Manchester United and a creditable draw at Manchester City, Sunderland ended the season comfortably surviving with an impressive 14th placed finish.
Although Sunderland have been heavily linked with Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, Poyet recently told Sky Sports that the Black Cats will not panic buy. The Uruguayan boss stressed; “Everyone is looking for that special player, the one who will do something special for you without needing to train or teach or coach too much but there are not that many so it is very difficult. The idea here is to stay calm, know where we are, be realistic and keep working hard. We will try to find players if it is possible, not to panic and set up any target of numbers of players or positions”.
It’s been no secret that Sunderland have struggled for goals this term – Poyet’s side have only managed 18 so far, with only Aston Villa and Burnley boasting worse stats. The Stadium of Light faithful are still eagerly waiting for their £6.5m American striker Jozy Altidore to better his one Premier League goal for the Black Cats and it’s telling that Adam Johnson’s total five goals sees him top the scoring charts for Sunderland. Poyet may not be naming the positions in which he’d like to improve but I think it’s safe to say that the striking options at the Stadium of Light is something he will be looking to address.
Sunderland have proved this season that they are up for the fight. The Black Cats have only lost six times – most recently to Manchester City, where they came from 2-0 down to claw it back to 2-2 – only for Frank Lampard to hit a superb headed winner. And last month’s excellent 1-0 win over Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby was another standout result.
As we enter the business end of the season, it’s extremely hard to predict who the three relegated clubs are going to be. It’s important for all sides to have a good January off and on the pitch, to give themselves the best possible chance of survival.