Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill says Arsenal defeat can be a learning experience

John O'Shea and Robin van Persie go for a high ball.
John O'Shea and Robin van Persie go for a high ball.

MARTIN O’Neill predicted Saturday’s defeat to Arsenal will become part of Sunderland’s learning curve as they look to improve as a side for the remainder of this season.

The Black Cats have advanced markedly since the arrival of their new manager in December, evolving a high-tempo pressing game and a very effective counter-attacking style.

They’ve played good football in that time too, but on Saturday they found themselves struggling to hold on to possession.

And O’Neill believes there are lessons for the team to learn in maintaining shape and concentration when the pressure is on.

He said: “That game will stand us in good stead because we had to experience playing without the ball for long periods, and we can learn from that.

“It was tough because the pitch was heavy too, yet we still took the game to them until around the hour mark before we started to tire late on.”

Read more of O’Neill’s comments, plus Graeme Anderson’s full match report on a cruel defeat for Sunderland, in today’s Sportmail.