Sunderland’s improvements are obvious to all but the most committed whinger

Olivier Giroud's own goal gave Sunderland hope against Arsenal
Olivier Giroud's own goal gave Sunderland hope against Arsenal

At 5pm on Saturday, with the results of Norwich and Swansea confirmed, Sunderland were having a bad, yet not too bad a weekend. Another 25 hours later it was certifiably grim.

But it was the results of other strugglers that cast a gloom over Wearside and certainly not the efforts of Sam Allardyce’s men at Arsenal. It wasn’t a flawless performance, but it could have been any result against a team that has not finished below fourth in the Premier League since 1996.

Had it been a draw, or even an away win at the Emirates, Arsène Wenger would have had little to complain about; although that doesn’t usually stop him. Regrettably it was the wrong result. However, if Sunderland can consistently play at that level then they will be fine.

As always, it is possible to put a negative spin on events. One gentleman of my acquaint did just that on Sunday evening in a pub on the foothills of Hylton Road; the Ship So-Called Isis.

His contention was that when Big Sam was appointed, Sunderland were second bottom – exactly where they are today. This is correct, but the improvements are obvious to all but the most committed whinger.

Things worsened still after Big’s first game; a defeat at West Brom for which he can hardly be blamed. This left his team further still down the league, rock bottom and a point behind Aston Villa, three behind Newcastle, five behind Bournemouth, six behind Norwich and seven behind Swansea.

Today Sunderland are six points ahead of Villa, one behind Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth and two adrift of Swansea.

If you really want to apply optimism to the affected area, the gap with Chelsea has been reduced from eight points to three.

Allardyce’s record so far, played seven, won three, lost four, is not relegation form. The problem is the 12 points from 15 games overall.

With Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool fixtures fast approaching, staying in touch will not be easy.

The good news is that Chelsea have been wonderfully poor this season. Manchester City were outplayed by Stoke (a team themselves beaten with relative comfort at the Stadium of Light a week earlier) while Liverpool were perfectly dreadful at the Sports Direct on Sunday.

As usual, hope lives. Less commonplace is how well organised Sunderland have been in recent weeks.

Before facing three of England’s more stellar clubs, there is another difficult fixture at home to Watford on Saturday.

So if possible, get yourself along and lend your voice. It might even be another home win. In fact, let’s go bananas and consider an even better possibility.

We might even enjoy the game.