STEPHANE Sessegnon says Sunderland must shrug off the demands of the festive fixture programme to get back among the points in the last of four quick-fire Premier League encounters.
Sunderland face their fourth league outing in 12 days when they head to Anfield on Wednesday, where Martin O’Neill’s slender options will be further depleted by the loss of injured John O’Shea.
The Black Cats looked leggy in the second half of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur after producing a Herculean effort on Boxing Day to beat reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
But with Sunderland still able to secure a half-time lead against Spurs, and demonstrating the renewed confidence within the camp, Sessegnon insists fatigue should not de-rail the Black Cats’ bid to widen the gap with the drop zone, which was reduced to five over the weekend.
Sessegnon told the Gazette: “Obviously fatigue plays a part because it was such a big effort against Manchester City.
“But it’s the same for every team, and we still performed well on Saturday.
“The schedule at this time of the year is tough, but you can’t use that as an excuse.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve got a few players out injured, and we were without Danny Rose on Saturday.
“We’ve just got to continue how we’ve been playing recently in a big match at Liverpool.
“There’ll be a bit of time to recuperate after the FA Cup match next weekend, but we need to put in another big effort at Liverpool.
“We performed exceptionally against Manchester City and got the three points, and our performance was good again on Saturday. We’ve got to keep in that way at Liverpool.”
Sessegnon felt Sunderland lacked a splash of fortune against Spurs after John O’Shea’s first goal in red and white had put the Black Cats on course for a third successive league victory.
But two scrappy goals within six minutes of the second half, turned the tables and Sessegnon admits Sunderland then found it hard going against a well-drilled Spurs back-line.
“We were unfortunate because we did well to get in front at half-time,” added the Benin international.
“We hadn’t had many chances, but then neither had Spurs.
“We looked good on the ball, and to score so close to half-time, gave us a big boost.
“But for them to score so quickly in the second half was hard to take.
“It was difficult for us after that. At 1-0, we wanted to make sure we started the second half well, and got through the first few minutes without conceding a goal.
“And then for them to get a second so quickly was doubly difficult.
“Tottenham are a team who are playing really well at the moment, and are so good with the ball.
“It was difficult for us to get enough possession to hurt them.
“The second goal didn’t arrive, but at the same time, we still kept going to try to get that equaliser.
“There was not a lot wrong with how we approached the game or how we played.”