Former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Danny Murphy has told BBC Sport that Sunderland can retain their Premier League status for next season.
The Black Cats are currently 15th in the league table with 29 points from 31 matches, just three points above the relegation zone.
Sunderland, though, received a huge boost in their survival chances on Sunday, when they got the better of Newcastle United 1-0 at the Stadium of Light in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Murphy was impressed with what he saw of Dick Advocaat’s side against the Magpies, and highlighted the reasons why the Black Cats can avoid the drop from the top flight of English football at the end of the season.
“They (Sunderland) have got some powerful players and they look fit, which is an often overlooked factor at this stage of the season,” the 38-year-old told BBC Sport.
“They also have a few clever players, like Jordi Gomez and Seb Larsson, who have been in this position at the bottom of the table before and will be used to the pressure involved when you are fighting relegation,” added Murphy.
“From what I saw of them in this game, they have got enough about them to beat the drop. But that is mainly because of the quality Defoe gives them in the final third. He could be the difference between them staying up, or not.”
Sunderland have indeed been in this situation before and have escaped the drop, and the fans will hope that they do the same again this season.
Players like Lee Cattermole are strong and combative, and this is something that will be useful in the final weeks of the season when teams struggling for survival start to scrap for points.
With former West Ham and Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe scoring against Newcastle, the Black Cats will now feel confident of scoring goals more regularly between now and the end of the campaign.
However, for Sunderland to escape the drop yet again, they need to maintain the level of performance against Newcastle.