Sunderland have another of those games in the must-not-lose bracket when they visit relegation rivals Burnley on New Year’s Eve.
We have had three similar away games in the first half of the season, against Stoke City, West Ham United and, especially, Swansea City, failing miserably in all of them.
With the Clarets six points ahead of Sunderland, we can’t afford that gap to get any biggerGARY ROWELL
So Sunderland must learn from the mistakes in those particular games, with the most glaring for me being that the Black Cats were far too cautious and did not score a goal in any of them.
Just because it’s a pressure game we need to get something from, it doesn’t mean Sunderland can’t have a positive outlook and put the opposition under pressure.
Getting the first goal is always huge in these games and if Sunderland are to do that, they may have to weather an early home storm as Sean Dyche’s team go hard at sides from the very first minute and have a good record at Turf Moor which has to be respected.
With the Clarets six points ahead of Sunderland, we can’t afford that gap to get any bigger and while the reaction to the defeat at Manchester United was in no way over-critical, because of low expectations, a loss at Burnley won’t be viewed the same way though, bizarrely, they have a better home record than Man United.
The pressure will be on David Moyes and the players to produce a result on Saturday and with Adnan Januzaj available again, the extra attacking flair and creativity he can provide could be crucial in a match like this.
The first thing the Black Cats boss will have to match against Burnley is the home team’s huge work-rate, arguably the Premier League’s hardest-working team and Dyche has them organised and well-drilled.
However, Burnley are no Man United, they don’t have anywhere near the calibre of player Sunderland faced in their last away game on Boxing Day which makes this match winnable.
Sunderland have only won once on the road – a poor record – and in that win at Bournemouth both Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe found the back of the net and we need them firing again and back on the scoresheet here.
Burnley’s six wins in front of their own fans proves how difficult they will be but man for man, I don’t see their players being any better than Sunderland’s – far from it. But it’s up to the players to prove that on Saturday and end the year with a result.