A casual glance at the Premier League relegation betting has Sunderland as 11/25 favourites to go down, with Aston Villa already considered sunk.
Along with Norwich (1/2) and Newcastle (evens) the quartet form crux of this year’s demotion dog-fight, but the prices seem to be the wrong way round.
The Black Cats look the most likely of all them to survive.
At present, they are the team outside the relegation zone with ten matches remaining, by virtue of a three-strike goal-difference advantage.
True, two places below them Newcastle have a game in hand, but they’ve lost four of their last five divisional outings and claimed a mere two successes in their last ten.
Meanwhile, Norwich are on an even more rotten run of form, taking one point from their last eight Premier League games.
Sunderland by contrast, have won three of their last ten, drawing a further three, despite counting Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United among their opponents.
Prior to Sam Allardyce’s arrival at the Stadium of Light, the Wearsiders’ averaged 0.375 points per league game.
In 20 fixtures for the former West Ham boss their mean is 1.05 an outing.
The fresh impetus provided by Allardyce’s arrival is something neither Norwich, nor Newcastle can call upon, having had the same management all term.
Under Neil and Steve McClaren the two sides below Sunderland in the league – yet longer than them in the relegation betting – average 0.86 and 0.88 points per game respectively.
Allardyce appears to be slowly, but surely, finding the answers to the Black Cats’ malaise since his arrival in October.
Neither Neil, nor McClaren can point to anything like a similar trajectory.
Norwich have gone dramatically off the boil after a positive start, while the only thing the Magpies can manage to do with any degree of consistency is disappoint.