Sky Sports pundit outlines what Sunderland have that other relegation candidates don’t

Paul Merson has backed Sunderland to retain their Premier League status next season.

Former Arsenal attacker Paul Merson said on the Gillette Soccer Saturday show on Sky Sports News HQ on Saturday afternoon (January 16) Sunderland will not get relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.

Merson believes that the presence of striker Jermain Defoe and manager Sam Allardyce will see the Black Cats retain their top-flight status for next season.

“I don’t see anybody else has got a Jermaine Defoe down at the bottom of the league,” said the former Arsenal attacker. “He is still one of England’s best goalscorers, no question about that.

“I think with him and Sam Allardyce, I think, will keep Sunderland up,” added Merson.

Sunderland are second from bottom in the Premier League table at the moment with just 18 points from 22 matches.

The Black Cats are four points behind 17th-placed Swansea City and are in real danger of getting relegated to the Championship at the end of the season.

Defoe has scored nine goals and created eight chances in 18 Premier League games for Sunderland so far this campaign.

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker has a pass accuracy of 76% and 72%, and has won six headers, 13 dribbles and six tackles.

Sam Allardyce’s side will return to action on Saturday afternoon when they take on Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League.

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