EMANUELE GIACCHERINI says Sunderland need to find a cure for their home sickness if they are to avoid another nail-biting relegation dogfight.
Sunderland run of just one Premier League victory at the Stadium of Light this season continued on Saturday after the Black Cats limped to a miserable 1-0 loss to Liverpool.
Gus Poyet’s side have largely been decent on the road this season, registering a respectable 11 points from their 10 away outings.
Yet on their own turf, Sunderland have managed a measly nine points from 11 games, albeit the fixture list has been cruel, with eight of the current top 10 already visiting Wearside.
But after last season’s narrow brush with the drop, midfielder Giaccherini knows Sunderland need to produce a dramatic upturn in their home form, with the buffer from the relegation zone down to just one point.
Giaccherini said: “We’ve had a lot of draws this year, but the second half of the season has started with two tough games (Manchester City and Liverpool).
“It’s vital for us to survive and we’re fighting to stay in the Premier League.
“We need to get more points at home.
“I think we are better away from home because we have players who like to play on the counter-attack – me, Adam Johnson, Seb Larsson and Connor (Wickham).
“If there is more space, maybe we can show our quality easier.
“But yes, we need to improve at home.”
Giaccherini admits Sunderland didn’t show enough intensity or fight in the opening 45 minutes against Liverpool, when the visitors could easily have been out of sight by the interval.
It wasn’t until the second half dismissal of Liam Bridcutt that Sunderland improved, with the woodwork denying Adam Johnson an equaliser.
The Italian international said: “Especially in the first half, we were not good. I don’t know why.
“We didn’t play the game and we were passive, with no attitude.
“We were lucky to be just 1-0 down.
“But the second half was different - much better, more attitude and more quality.
“We went close to scoring through Adam.
“If the first half had been like the second, then maybe the result would have been different.
“We were maybe better with 10, because we had nothing to lose.
“I don’t know why we were so bad in the first half.
“Maybe Liverpool were strong.
“They have quality, but we needed to show more heart because our qualities are different.”
It was only a second league start of an injury-hit season for Giaccherini, but after keeping his place from the previous weekend’s FA Cup third round win over Leeds, the 29-year-old feels he has rediscovered his match fitness.
“I’m very happy to be starting,” he added.
“It’s important for me to keep playing and now I feel well.
“I feel like my injury is behind me and I hope in the next two or three games, that I can also score.”