It’s been a strange season for Sunderland so far. On the one hand they’ve won just one match in the Premier League, on the other they’ve also lost only once.
Gus Poyet’s Black Cats have been an icon of resilience thus far, scrapping their way to five draws without playing well or having any kind of firepower to call on until Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham woke up against Stoke.
Sunderland’s next game is against Southampton, where they are a massive 9/2 to win due to the Saints’ fine start to the year.
Here’s three reasons why you should at least take the 5/4 on offer for the away team/draw double chance at St Mary’s.
Southampton have not beaten Sunderland since 2003.
The Black Cats have picked up four draws and four wins in their past eight encounters with the Saints, four of which took place last season.
They drew 1-1 at St Mary’s in the Premier League last term in the midst of a similarly impressive Southampton start to the campaign.
Only unbeaten Chelsea have lost fewer games than Poyet’s side this season.
Somewhat unexpectedly, the only Premier League side to have beaten Sunderland so far this season is QPR, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are a pushover.
Poyet’s team have already claimed a point from matches with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as drawing with Burnley, West Brom and Swansea.
The main thing that stopped them from claiming a couple more wins in those matches was a lack of a cutting edge, something seemingly addressed in their last match – a 3-1 win over Stoke.
The Southampton bubble might be about to burst.
Ronald Koeman’s side made a mockery of pre-season doom-mongering by winning six games on the trot in all competitions, but lost last time out at Spurs.
Clearly White Hart Lane is not the easiest place to claim three points, but the defeat to their former manager Mauricio Pochettino killed Southampton’s momentum just before the international break.
The Saints have a favourable run of matches in the coming weeks, but if Sunderland extend their fine record against them, it might not be the points-fest many fans are expecting.