Victor Anichebe: We all need to chip in with goals to take heat off Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe
Jermain Defoe thrives on the pressure of being the main man at Sunderland.
But strike partner Victor Anichebe says his teammates need to help relieve some of the burden from the shoulders of Defoe, who has “carried” the team in recent seasons.
The 34-year-old’s 15 Premier League goals kept the Black Cats up last season and he has already notched four goals this term.
Sunderland, without a win and bottom of the league after seven games, rely heavily on his goals.
And Anichebe, who is manager David Moyes’ only other striking option at the moment, says Defoe’s motivation to be the best has left a lasting impression.
Anichebe said: “Jermain is really good, you can see that in training every day - his finishing is a joke!
“His movement is great and he helps me too.
“When we play together in training, he knows where to find me and I know when to give it back to him and stuff like that.
“Watching him, everyone knows he is a really good player and he has carried Sunderland for a long time.
“It is up to the team, it is up to everybody to help him, not just me.
“We need to start keeping more clean sheets, that is the foundation and getting goals from set pieces, all these sorts of things that other Premier League teams do.
“We will work on that and hopefully it will take some of the pressure off Jermain - even though he thrives on it!
“If you ask him, he loves the pressure, he likes it no matter what and that is the motivation that he has.
“It is really rare to see, many people would shy away from that.
“It is fascinating to see that he likes it, he wants it and that’s probably why he gets the best performances because he knows he is probably the man here, isn’t he?
“Hopefully if he - and everybody else - can stay fit then we can do well,” added Anichebe, ahead of tomorrow’s bottom-of-the-table clash at Stoke City.
Anichebe, yet to start a game for Sunderland since arriving on a free in the summer, is back in full training after a groin injury kept him out of the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion before the international break.
The 28-year-old is enjoying his time on Wearside and is pleased to be back playing under David Moyes.
The pair worked together at Everton when academy product Anichebe broke into the first team.
He admits Moyes’ arrival at Sunderland this summer was a big draw in him choosing to move to Wearside.
Anichebe added: “Of course, when I was at West Brom I talked about him a lot and that I would like to work under him again.
“He came in for me. I weighed it up, spoke to my agent and thought yes this seems like a good move for me.
“With everything happening in the Premier League this season it is a good thing to be part of.”