It took an own goal from Wes Brown to lift Everton to a 1-0 win over Sunderland, but the Toffees won’t be complaining. Those three points put Everton into fourth, two points above Arsenal – and have them dreaming of singing the Champions League anthem next season.
For Sunderland, though, that own goal – their sixth of the season – may be what puts them into The Championship next year. The Black Cats still have two games in hand, but they’re sitting dead last, seven points from safety.
And Sunderland don’t have the easiest of run-ins. They have to face Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of four days, and still need to travel to Old Trafford. They’ll have to host a Cardiff City side still trying desperately to avoid the drop, and will also come up against two sides whose future may still be uncertain when they face off – West Brom and Swansea.
Considering this is a side that made it to the final of the League Cup and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, you have to wonder what, exactly, went wrong. Manager Gus Poyet believes the answer just might be simple: it could be luck that keeps Sunderland from being unable to win a match.
In his post-match interview the Black Cats boss said, “One moment of luck has defined the game and maybe that is the difference between being at the top and being at the bottom. Sometimes things go for you when you are doing well. Unfortunately this game was not to be for us.”
Own goals might sometimes be down to a moment of luck, but usually they come from the pressure of the opposing side. Sunderland, whose defense often looks absolutely atrocious, are now winless in their last nine games, and have collected just one point from that span.
That might be more than just bad luck, Poyet.