Sunderland's relegation six-pointer against Aston Villa this afternoon may well boil down to one thing: defensive mistakes.
Both sides have made more than they will care to admit this season and any more could have a serious say in their bid to remain in the Premier League.
Neither Sunderland nor Aston Villa currently reside in the relegation zone - but one bad result could prove crucial in terms of both points and confidence at this stage of the campaign.
That's why defensive solidity will prove key at the Stadium of Light, bringing into question the Black Cats' and Villans' defenders.
|Team||Tackles (per game)||Interceptions||Clearances||Headers||Appearances||Minutes Played|
|Jores Okore||Aston Villa||1.63||3||6.81||2.44||16||1,379|
Two key representatives of either side's back line are Jores Okore and John O'Shea. And, as Opta stats show, there is one clear winner in all four key defensive areas ahead of today's Premier League clash.
Indeed, 22-year-old Okore - who looks to have a bright future ahead of him - has won more tackles, interceptions and headers per game than Sunderland's experienced but struggling head O'Shea, while also making more clearances per game than the Irishman.
If anyone is to make a crucial mistake this afternoon, then, O'Shea and co seem a better bet than Aston Villa's current back line, especially considering the boost Tim Sherwood's side's double over local rivals West Brom would have provided them.
Relegation six-pointers, though, aren't fought on paper...