Sunderland v Everton: Sam Allardyce's side can secure Premier League survival with win
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 11/05/16 7:27pm
Sunderland can guarantee their Premier League survival if they beat Everton on Wednesday night, live on Sky Sports 1.
Victory in front of the Sky cameras would see Sunderland safe - and relegate fierce rivals Newcastle, alongside Norwich - but a loss against the 12th-placed Toffees would send the scrap for survival to the final day.
Roberto Martinez's men are winding down what has been widely regarded as a disappointing season and they never looked like crashing Leicester's title-winning party on Saturday, conceding an early goal and slipping to a 3-1 defeat.
However, Allardyce says he will be wary of Everton and thinks criticism of their recent displays will spur them on.
"I hope there is not a feeling out there that this game is a foregone conclusion," said the Sunderland boss in the pre-match press conference. "It will be anything but.
"Everton have been criticised for their performance against Leicester and I think that will get a reaction from their players and Roberto here on Wednesday.
"I think we will see Everton trying their best to spoil our evening. We must be in top form and be as committed as we were on Saturday, if we are to get the result we are looking for."
Sunderland defender Lamine Kone is fit after being replaced during the second half of Saturday's 3-2 victory over Chelsea with a thigh problem.
Full-back Billy Jones, who did not make the 18 at the weekend because of a hip injury, remains a doubt, but Allardyce otherwise has a full squad from which to select.
Everton welcome back Ramiro Funes Mori from suspension and could also have Gareth Barry available.
Funes Mori has served a three-match ban following his red card in the Merseyside derby while Barry has been sidelined by a groin injury.
But the Toffees remain short in defence with Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman (both hamstring) and Tony Hibbert (ankle) out along with Gerard Deulofeu (knee).
Sunderland have won just one of their last 10 Barclays Premier League home matches against Everton (W1 D4 L5).The Black Cats have netted just six goals in that run of 10 matches.
Jermain Defoe netted just three goals in 17 Premier League games against Everton before joining Sunderland but has scored in both games for the Black Cats against the Toffees.
Everton netted six goals from eight shots on target in the reverse fixture earlier this season at Goodison Park, while Sunderland scored twice from nine efforts on target.
Arouna Kone has netted three goals in two top-flight meetings with Sunderland (all via a hat-trick in the 6-2 win in November), against no side has he scored more Premier League goals (also three v West Brom).
Sunderland have lost just one of their last nine Premier League games, winning two and drawing six.
The Toffees have registered just one win in their last nine top-flight games, drawing three and losing five.
With 143 goals in total in the Premier League, Defoe is just one away from joining Robin van Persie (144) as the joint-10th highest scorer in the competition.
Romelu Lukaku is without a goal in his last seven top-flight appearances, his longest goal drought in the Premier League since January 2015 (eight).
Paul Merson's prediction
Everton have shot a bolt. I watched them against Leicester and they were atrocious. They still have something to play for - they are playing for their manager's job!
Victory for Sunderland, meanwhile, condemns Norwich and Newcastle to relegation and the way they are playing at the minute I can't see past them. The job will be done and Big Sam keeps a club up once again... if anyone else had been appointed, Sunderland simply wouldn't have survived.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)
Sunderland go into Wednesday's game as 8/11 favourites to get the all-important win, with Everton priced up at 18/5 and the draw at 14/5. The Black Cats were pushed out from 5/6 to 11/2 to face relegation following their 3-2 victory over Chelsea, with Newcastle and Norwich now short odds to go down. Jermain Defoe, who has three goals in his last five including the weekend winner, is the 3/1 favourite to score the game's first goal, which Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp is backing in a 2-1 win at 18/1. See all the odds and tips from the Sky Sports pundits here.