This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sunderland face a promotion six-pointer as they take on Peterborough United this afternoon.
The Black Cats are certainly the in-form team in League One at the moment and that has put them within touching distance of the automatic promotion places.
Today they take on the Posh who are currently sitting in second place, meaning that this match could go a long way to deciding who will be finishing in the top two come the end of the season.
Victory would be a massive mathematical and psychological advantage, but will Lee Johnson’s side be guaranteed automatic promotion if they come out victorious this afternoon?
The team at FLW have their say…
I think so yes, they were one of my favourites before today’s game anyway if truth be told.
They possess the division’s best goalscorer in Charlie Wyke and as such have a chance to get three points in most games they play.
The strength in depth they possess is far superior to that of Peterborough’s and for that reason I can see them getting automatic promotion in the run in.
They seem to go from strength to strength under Johnson and for me they are the team to beat no matter what the result is later.
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You would have to say a win today would have to make Sunderland major favourites to claim one of the automatic promotion spots. The fact that they are in with that chance is testament to the excellent job that Lee Johnson has done since he took over from Phil Parkinson and it shows how much the change has transformed their fortunes on the field.
These are the sorts of games that often define campaigns and Sunderland have a lot of momentum at the moment. If they were to win then that momentum would be looking unstoppable and you would not want to be one of the other teams left still having to face them in the end-of-season run-in.
Johnson’s side need to show they can handle the nerves of such an important game, and they have already had the experience of winning a final at Wembley in the Football League Trophy. That should give them confidence that in one-off games where the pressure is on they can come out on the right side of the results.
Whoever loses today is going to suffer a real psychological blow and it will be difficult to recover from that in the games that follow. It is therefore going to be a very cagey match and you would not want to firmly back either team to win it at the moment, given that both are performing well and getting the best out of key players at the right time.
I think you’d have to consider Sunderland to not only be favourites for automatic promotion but also to win the league.
After today they’ll still have a game in hand over Peterborough and two over Hull City, so a victory would really put them in the driving seat.
Peterborough are obviously very dangerous going forward, as we saw when they put seven goals past Accrington Stanley last weekend, but they can be really shaky at the back, as evidenced when they conceded six times in two games against Rochdale and Blackpool.
That’s something Sunderland with all their attacking talent can exploit and I really fancy them for a 2-1 win this afternoon.