Jan Kirchhoff discusses whether Sunderland should now be considered favourites to survive

The Black Cats midfielder believes the club have put themselves in pole position to beat the drop.

Sunderland midfielder Jan Kirchhoff has told the Mirror that the club should now be considered as favourites to beat the drop after lifting themselves out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

The Black Cats drew 0-0 with Arsenal on Sunday to leave them with just a single defeat from their last seven matches, a run of form which has seen them move from 19th place to outside of the bottom three.

Crucially, they also hold a game in hand over local rivals Newcastle United, giving them a chance to pull away from the second-bottom Magpies in the remaining weeks of the season.

Kirchhoff, who has been one of the star performers for Sam Allardyce's side since being converted to a defensive midfieldr role after his January arrival from Bayern Munich, believes that his side now have the edge over both Newcastle and 18th-place Norwich City in the battle to survive.

The German told the Mirror: "We are keeping our chance to stay in this league alive. It is in our hands. We have a game in hand to Newcastle and a point up. Same games as Norwich, but a much better goal difference. We can hold this position.

"The last six games we have proved ourselves good enough. We have created a really good atmosphere at this club. For every team this is an atmosphere you have to create to be successful. It is fun to work in, all players are good together, and it is a good group, as are the coach and the staff.

"It shows in what we bring to the pitch. We go to Stoke to win the game, get three points and take a big step towards getting out of trouble. We are out of the bottom three and that is a good feeling. It is a positive situation. We are in a good way."

As alluded to by Kirchhoff, Sunderland have not only the advantage of a game in hand over Newcastle, but their goal difference is seven better than Norwich's, a potentially huge factor at this late stage.

The Black Cats travel to a Stoke City side who have nothing left to play for next weekend knowing that victory would be a giant leap towards survival.

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