These five matches could make or break Sunderland’s season

Matches against Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Leicester City will play a huge part in Sunderland's season.

Sunderland earned a 1-1 draw with Hull City on Tuesday evening, when Jack Rodwell equalised following Dame N’Doye’s first-half opener.

It was a feisty encounter but it left the Black Cats with plenty to do in the weeks ahead if they want to ensure they remain in the top flight for another season.

Here we take a look at five matches that could make or break Sunderland’s season:

Aston Villa at home – Saturday March 14

As things stand just one point and one place separate Sunderland and Aston Villa in the table, and this match is a huge one in the battle to avoid relegation.

If Gus Poyet’s side win they will move four points clear of Villa, but lose and they will see Tim Sherwood’s side leap-frog them and pull them worryingly close to the bottom three.

Newcastle United at home – Sunday April 5

Sunderland’s recent record against Newcastle United is nothing short of brilliant and Poyet will hope that continues when the Magpies visit St James’ Park at the start of April.

A win would do wonders for Sunderland’s confidence and it could ensure they have a relatively easy time of it in the final few weeks of the season.

Crystal Palace at home – Saturday April 11

Most of Sunderland’s key matches are at the Stadium of Light – games they can and should win if they are on form.

This is one of those matches, and despite the Eagles’ resurgence Sunderland will be looking to get more points on the board.

Stoke City away – Saturday April 25

The only away match on this list is arguably the one Sunderland will feel most confident of taking something from.

While winning all their remaining home games will almost certainly be more than enough to keep them in the Premier League, they may need to get a point or three on their travels.

Leicester City at home – Saturday May 16

This game could be huge depending on how things have gone before it.

Leicester City look doomed to relegation but if they are still fighting for survival they could cause an upset against Poyet’s men.

This is not the type of match Sunderland will want to face if they have not pulled clear of trouble themselves.

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