Attack best form of defence for Sunderland in Newcastle Utd derby?

Sunderland's Steven Fletcher in action at Swansea City
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher in action at Swansea City
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GUS POYET says Sunderland cannot overlook the improvements needed going forwards, as he looks to tighten Sunderland’s defensive resolve.

Sunderland head into Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby with the most brittle defence in the Premier League after shipping 20 goals in the opening eight games.

But only Stoke City have scored fewer than the measly tally of five managed by Sunderland.

Poyet is eager to strike a balance to improve Sunderland’s statistics at either end of the pitch, but feels that proving a greater attacking threat may act as a tonic to their under-fire back-line.

“Sometimes when you’re conceding so many goals, sub-consciously the defensive side comes first,” said Poyet.

“But we can’t forget that we need to attack and score goals.

“We have to do the other bit too, to play more and put more players forward.

“Of course, Swansea was a different task because they normally keep the ball more than other opposition.

“But now I think we have the chance to impose our game, go forward more and create more with more players in the box.

“If you do that, you defend better or you defend less at least. You don’t concede as many corners either!

“There’s plenty of things we need to do and of course there’s a balance.

“But when you prepare for that every day, then it becomes a habit.”

Set pieces have been Sunderland’s principle defensive headache after taking their tally to six goals conceded from deadball situations with two of Swansea’s four last weekend.

Poyet has spoken with his squad about the problem and Sunderland will concentrate on set pieces on the training ground over the next 48 hours.

“We talked about the set pieces and we’ll work on them before the game,” he added.

“It’s incredible because both of them were so simple to defend and for some reason we conceded these goals.

“It’s a matter of concentration. It’s the mental side.

“The first goal at Swansea was really unfortunate. Phil (Bardsley) was goalside, going with his man.

“The shot from Fletch (Steven Fletcher) in the first half went out 10 inches and that deflection off Phil Bardsley went in 10 inches.

“But that’s what happens when you’re at the bottom.”