ADAM JOHNSON says Sunderland’s goal difference advantage could prove to be crucial in the battle to avoid the drop.
Sunderland’s points buffer with the relegation zone was erased last night after Wigan’s victory over Swansea, which propelled Newcastle United into the bottom three.
Wigan, Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland now all lie on 38 points with two games remaining, yet the Black Cats can boast a far superior goal difference over the other three sides, despite being routed 6-1 at Aston Villa last week.
With the bottom half of the table so concertinaed, Johnson believes such fine margins could be decisive and says that was what made 10-man Sunderland’s point against Stoke on Monday night so vital.
Johnson told the Echo: “It was important to move up a couple of places in the table on Monday.
“I know we’re all on the same points, but goal difference could be massive.
“I think we’ve got a good 10-goal advantage on anyone else.
“It’s difficult to see the teams below us scoring 15 goals in the next two games.
“We have to look at that as a positive.”
Johnson has been much-maligned this season after his £10million move from Manchester City, yet the England winger proved to be a key figure in helping Sunderland battle back to claim a draw against the Potters.
The 25-year-old admits he felt the burden of responsibility after Craig Gardner’s dismissal left Sunderland facing an uphill task to avoid a second successive defeat.
But Johnson was pleased Sunderland secured something for their efforts after a much-improved second half display.
“Even when you’re down to 10 men, it’s important to try to make something happen,” added Johnson. “You’ve probably got to do a little bit more yourself.
“That was the responsibility that we had to take on and we created a few chances, won some corners and free-kicks and caused them problems.
“It’s definitely a point gained, especially under the circumstances after going 1-0 down with 10 men.
“We were able to fight back and we were the better team in that second half.
“The main aim at half-time was to get a point and make sure we came away with something in the circumstances.
“We did that and played very well in the second half.
“I thought we were the better team, even with 10 men and probably could have won the game to be honest.
“But we were delighted to come away with a point and I think it showed the character in the team.”