Sunderland are in dire need of a win as they take on Southampton in their penultimate home match of the season, and will look to avenge the 8-0 mauling they suffered in the reverse fixture.
Were the Black Cats not in such a perilous position at the wrong end of the Premier League table, a draw away to Stoke City would have been a perfectly acceptable and creditable result. However, the efforts of other teams meant that it was not enough to prevent them from falling into the drop zone.
They were left to rue a couple of golden opportunities which went begging in the second half after making it to the interval just about on level terms. For a side that has found scoring goals such a problem this season, it is not a great time to face the top-flight’s tightest defence, but Connor Wickham will hope his strike last time out is the first of another late-season flurry.
An entertaining draw against Tottenham was another occasion in which Southampton came away feeling that they deserved more for their level of performance, having suffered unfortunate defeats at the hands of Everton and Stoke City recently. As a result, their top four hopes are now over.
The main positive now as the season approaches its end is that Graziano Pelle has returned to form following a lengthy goal drought. He looked much more like his usual self against Spurs, scoring twice and almost handing his side a fifth straight home win. A day later, captain Jose Fonte’s scandalously harsh omission from the PFA Team of the Season was revealed.
Steven Fletcher is a major doubt for Sunderland with an ankle injury, and Wes Brown, Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giaccherini are definitely out.
Southampton have two high-profile absentees in Dusan Tadic and Morgan Schneiderlin, while Filip Djuricic is unlikely to recover from injury in time to play.
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