It has been a month of much anxiety for Sunderland.
Missing a number of key players through injury and internationals, performances on the pitch have regressed, against a backdrop of bids for key players. But have they really lost much ground on their relegation rivals?
Here, we rank the bottom seven’s business so far, and what they might do in the days ahead. On the whole, it largely offers some hope that Sunderland can stay afloat...
Perhaps the only club to have a more arduous January than Sunderland. Robert Snodgrass is almost certain to leave and they have taken big gambles in hoping Oumar Niasse and Lazar Markovic can pick up the creative burden. Evandro Goebel has worked well with new boss Marco Silva before and so is a canny addition. They are looking to sign five players before the window shuts and they truly need them.
Survival rating: 1/5
Sam Allardyce so far has been frustrated in his bid to bolster a team plummeting towards relegation, Jeffrey Schlupp looks an expensive addition at £12million, quick but inconsistent at this level.
Yann M’Vila is a superb and composed midfielder if he can land him, while all Black Cats know he can get the best out of Patrick van Aanholt. Taking Chris Samba on trial was a clear sign of a manager beginning to panic, however.
Survival rating: 1.5/5… but could become a 3
The additions of Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson looked distinctly underwhelming and unlikely to add the steel and leadership Swansea need, but both were superb in a shock win over Liverpool.
Carroll, in particular, delivered a masterful display, but they still will be desperate to find a replacement for Ashley Williams. Most important bits of business will likely be keeping hold of Fernando Llorente and bringing in the canny Paul Clement.
Survival rating: 3/5
Aitor Karanka has taken an expensive gamble on getting Patrick Bamford’s career back on track, while Rudy Gestede is a capable but hardly sparkling back-up. Much will rest on these next few days.
If they can land Snodgrass, Bojan and Jese, they will have a front line certain to keep them up, given their strength at the back. If they can’t, and it looks likely Snodgrass will head elsewhere, they’ll be left with unhappy attackers (Gaston, Downing) who haven’t been performing this season.
Survival rating: 2/5... but could become a 4
Their efforts to replace the irreplaceable N’Golo Kante continue, talented young midfielder Wilfred Ndidi arriving from Genk.
He has the potential to beef up their ailing midfield but it must be said that the prospect of Gaston Ramirez does not inspire confidence that they will pull away from trouble.
They will be relying on last season’s heroes to recapture their form, something they have shown few signs of managing. Chinese interest in Islam Slimani could compound their woes.
Survival rating: 2/5
Tom Cleverley’s availability alerted Sunderland but the midfielder was always likely to return to a club where he made such a major breakthrough. He is a tidy if not spectacular addition, while signing AC Milan’s M’baye Niang is a major gamble.
He is at his best a quick and dynamic forward, but is raw and does not have a dependable end product. Odion Ighalo, so impressive last season, has not fired for a while but this is a roll of the dice, make no mistake.
Survival rating: 2/5