Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are ‘special games’ for Sunderland

KEY DEFENDER: 'Santiago Vergini
KEY DEFENDER: 'Santiago Vergini
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SANTIAGO Vergini says Sunderland’s daunting next three games will determine whether the glass is half-full or half-empty for the Black Cats.

Sunderland extended their unbeaten run to three outings after a goalless draw at third bottom Leicester City on Saturday - the seventh time in 12 Premier League outings that Gus Poyet’s men have finished all-square this season.

But while Sunderland were able to register a first clean sheet in almost two months, there was a sense of what might have been at the King Power Stadium after the visitors were unable to make the most of their dominance in possession.

Argentine defender Vergini was not too disheartened by a point – stressing that the crucial outcome was to avoid suffering defeat against a bottom half rival away from home.

And he says Sunderland’s clashes against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in the space of seven days – starting with Saturday’s visit of the Premier League leaders – will provide some context to the result at Leicester.

Vergini told SportMail: “These are very special games coming up.

“We’re coming up against some of the best teams in the world, and it’s a really good way to measure ourselves – both collectively and individually.

“They’re going to be very tough though and we’ll have to work very hard to get anything out of them and continue putting points on the board.

“I think it’s difficult to say whether it was a point gained or two points lost at Leicester.

“But when you consider that we’ve got a very tough home game against Chelsea coming up next, then this draw could be a useful one.

“The fact that Leicester are a direct rival means it was absolutely vital that we didn’t lose the game, particularly as we were the away team.

“It’s important that we don’t lose our home games and particularly don’t lose the ones where we’re playing away against direct rivals.

“Those that are the games that are really six-pointers.

“It was vital not to lose on Saturday and now we need to look to win our home games.”

Sunderland came closest to finding a breakthrough in the East Midlands with Steven Fletcher denied by a superb save from Kasper Schmeichel before the Dane produced another smart stop to foil Adam Johnson’s long-range effort.

“There were two bits of play in the first half where we really did do very well, but just weren’t able to put the final finishing touch to it and score the goal,” said Vergini.

“But I think the important thing was that the team showed a very good attitude and hopefully we can continue in that same vein of form.”

The lack of goals didn’t dampen the mood of the 3,000 travelling Sunderland fans, who spent large spells of the game toasting Vergini with a new chant to the tune of the Human League’s 1980s hit Don’t You Want Me.

The smiling 26-year-old said: “It’s great they were chanting my name, but we have to be very thankful generally for all the support they’ve offered us throughout the season.”

“For us, it’s really important.”