Odds masters across the world declared Sunderland and Newcastle United’s geese cooked in the battle to avoid Premier League relegation.
A sharp shortening of the north east duo’s odds for the drop was sparked by the Magpies’ 3-2 defeat at Norwich City, which fell at the same time as Sunderland could only manage a goalless draw at home to West Bromwich Albion.
The aforementioned loss left Newcastle six points short of safety with seven games to play, while the Black Cats are four adrift of the Canaries, whom they both have a game in hand on.
Newcastle fringe on requiring a Leicester-like miracle to keep them afloat, with some bookies going as far as 1/10 about them being relegated, while their dearly despised Sunderland aren’t far behind, with the lowest odds on their relegation clocking in at around 1/4.
Norwich, by contrast, are pretty much home and hosed according to the odds gurus, who offer better than evens across the board about them being demoted, making now the ideal time for punters to place their bets on the East Anglians going down.
Their recently-vanquished rivals Newcastle can probably be cast off at this stage, but the Wearsiders are by no means out of the running.
As stated, they’ve got a game in hand on Alex Neil’s men – a far-from-impossible assignment at home to Everton.
On the surface, their fixture card looks tough, but four home matches and three navigable away trips to Stoke, Watford and none other than Norwich isn’t the worst draw.
Overcoming the Canaries is paramount in a fortnight’s time, but until that match at least, they’re still not relying on other results to go their way thanks to the game in hand.
With no win in five, picking up points in batches of three is proving exceedingly difficult for Sam Allardyce’s side, but, importantly, they’re rarely losing. Despite being four points adrift, they’ve not lost in four, which suggests something is going right with regards to the manager’s modus operandi and that there’s a togetherness in the dressing room.
These are essential components when scrapping to stay up and with both on side, Sunderland can’t be ruled out of the survival skirmish just yet.