SEB LARSSON believes playing in a central midfield three has helped to rejuvenate his Sunderland career.
Larsson produced a superb display in last weekend’s goalless draw against Chelsea, with the Swedish international tireless in his efforts to nullify the Premier League leaders.
The 29-year-old initially struggled to find consistency as a central midfielder after being moved inside from the right wing under Martin O’Neill, and subsequently became a target for criticism among supporters.
But Larsson played a key role in Sunderland’s escape from the drop last season and after signing a new contract during the summer, he has continued in that same vein of form this year.
He attributes that upturn to playing in a midfield trio, which has allowed him to get to grips with the role.
Larsson said: “I feel like I’m better-adapted to the position now. I’ve found my way of playing there a little bit more.
“It took me longer than I expected maybe and at times it didn’t help with having different ways of playing as well.
“But it comes back to knowing what we’re doing as a team.
“Without a doubt, it’s helped playing in a midfield three.
“It’s tough playing in the middle in the Premier League.
“Quite often, you come up against some big boys and you’ve got to battle away.
“But playing in a three, gives you that bit of freedom to get forward a bit more, get into the box a bit more.
“I’ve spoken about that before. I thought I’d lost that part of my game when I started playing centrally. I feel like I’m getting back there.”
Larsson has also thrived working in tandem with Lee Cattermole and after more than three years together in Sunderland midfield, the former Arsenal man believes they are reaping the rewards from their understanding.
“I’ve played a fair bit with Catts now too in the middle,” he added. “We know each other really well.
“You’ve got to get that understanding, especially when you come up against the big teams and you’re defending.
“You need to know where your partner is going to be. I’m not saying it has to be the same three all the time, but when you’re rotating four or five, you get to know each other a lot.”