Jermain Defoe key to Sunderland’s relegation battle

Sunderland are looking to escape relegation for the fourth consecutive season, but without the help of striker Jermain Defoe, they wouldn’t have had a chance of staying up this season.

Defoe is Sunderland’s leading goalscorer by 10 goals in the league, and he has now bagged 17 goals in 32 appearances this season, including a hat-trick in his sides 4-2 win at Swansea, and an incredible volley against rivals Newcastle, which earned his side a point, earlier in the season. The 33-year-old scored once more at the weekend to grab a crucial away point at Stoke, and the England international has now netted four in his last seven league games.

With Defoe currently having the highest shots-per-goal ratio in the Premier League, some fans even feel he deserves a place on the plane to France in the summer, when England play in the Euro Championships. On the other hand, other fans feel he is past his prime, and they think England should look to the up-and-coming forwards of the future, like Harry Kane, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and even in-form 18-year-old Marcus Rashford. Defoe has proved to those fans that think he’s past his best, wrong though, after breaking his own record of most high intensity sprints in the away victory against Norwich, two weeks ago, and with his clinical finishing still so dangerous to defences, England boss Roy Hodgson could be tempted to take the pacey forward to France.

Sunderland and Norwich are now placed in the relegation zone, after Newcastle’s win against Crystal Palace at the weekend, took the Magpies out of the relegation zone. This now means they are one point above Sunderland, and two points above Norwich, although both teams have a game in hand over rivals Newcastle. Sunderland face Chelsea, Everton and Watford in their three remaining games of the season, as they look to overtake their rivals Newcastle to stay up. The Black Cats will be looking for their star man Defoe, to continue his predator instincts in-front of goal, to guide them to safety.

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