His goals are worth their weight in gold for the club
As an indication of how difficult things are at Sunderland, David Moyes recently voiced his thoughts that he might not have taken charge at the Stadium of Light if he knew the budgetary constraints they have to abide by.
"I’d have had to have thought a lot more about taking the job. I didn’t see us having no money in January. I’m disappointed I won’t be able to do some work in January and build on what we’ve done so far," he had said.
Just like most of the last few seasons, the Black Cats find themselves engaged in a battle to beat the drop.
After a recent upturn in form, between early November and mid December which yielded four wins from seven, the mood had dropped again over the Christmas period.
A 3-1 loss at Manchester United was probably no big surprise. But a 4-1 hammering at the hands of newly promoted Burnley certainly was.
However, thanks to Jermain Defoe, Sunderland managed to gain a point at home from a losing position against a Liverpool side with very different ambitions.
They may have been two penalties for the veteran forward but that makes little difference with his composure from 12 yards bringing his goals tally to 11 for the season.
Who's the most important forward for their respective team?— Newstalk Sport (@NewstalkSport) January 2, 2017
To put that in context, Defoe has scored all but eight of Sunderland's 19 for the season which makes him indispensable to a club where the next most prolific finishers are left back Patrick van Aanholt and Victor Anichebe who briefly had an excellent run of form at that time when the club enjoyed a brief improvement in results.
His goals have also been important, with three winners and two resulting in the final equalisers for draws.
With cash limited during the January transfer window, the pressure builds on Defoe to keep scoring or converting penalties (five of his goals have come by that route) although his history suggests he will deliver if the players behind him create enough.
With margins tight, the potential goals to come could prove to be the difference as it was last season when his winner against Chelsea and 90th minute equaliser at Stoke all proved crucial ultimately to finish 17th.
Sunderland are only one point off the safety of 17th place in the Premier League table which means there is still hope they can stage another late escape and drag themselves out of their current predicament.
Certainly it's what rivals lack with Hull City relying on magic from midfielder Robert Snodgrass and Swansea getting the occasional goal from Fernando Llorente.