Sunderland’s Larsson: We’ve got to be stronger

Sebastian Larsson.
Sebastian Larsson.

SEB LARSSON has echoed the thoughts of new boss Gus Poyet by insisting Sunderland must be more defensively resilient if they are to move off the Premier League’s basement.

The Black Cats boast the leakiest back-line in the top flight after conceding 14 times in their last five league outings.

Head coach Poyet immediately identified Sunderland’s defence as the root of their problems when he was appointed at the Stadium of Light last week, with coaching staff Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway renowned for strengthening the back-line at former club Brighton.

Poyet said: “If you concede that many goals per game in the Premier League, you’re going to have little chance of winning games.”

Midfielder Larsson agrees and believes it is the “soft” goals conceded by Sunderland which have been the root cause of their problems.

The Swede told the Echo: “It’s the type of goals we’ve conceded throughout this season – it’s not necessarily that teams are cutting us open and creating a ridiculous amount of chances.

“Without a doubt, that’s cost us points, especially when you go behind.

“We’ve had to chase games all the time and, physically, that tires you out. You can never sit back and try to control the game and regain some energy.

“You always have to keep chasing and you leave yourself exposed as well.

“We need to correct the type of goals we’ve conceded without a doubt and if we can do that, we’ll push up the league.”

The fixture list has not helped Sunderland’s attempts to shore up their defensive foundations after facing joint league leaders Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester United in the last two matches.

The next three – against Swansea, Newcastle and newly-promoted Hull – appear more appealing on paper.

Saturday’s opponents Swansea are still searching for their first home league win of the campaign, yet, like Sunderland, they have faced tough fixtures on their own turf after taking just one point from games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium.

Larsson realises that facing last season’s Capital One Cup winners continues the

run of testing matches, but says Sunderland are in a position where they are desperate for points, regardless of the opposition.

“The tough games tend to come around when you are struggling,” added the 28-year-old.

“At the end of the day, we’ll have played all teams twice and there’s no excuses.

“Whatever the fixtures coming up, we have to do everything we can to get the points.”