Midfielder Sebastian Larsson has said Sunderland will use their 6-1 defeat against Aston Villa as motivation to escape the drop.
Paulo Di Canio’s Sunderland face Stoke next.
After two victories in a row, which included a 3-0 derby victory against Newcastle, the Black Cats were brought down to earth with the drubbing at Villa Park that currently leaves them just two points from the bottom three in 17th place.
Commenting on Sunderland’s chances of claiming survival, Larsson insisted the pain of the loss to Villa would focus their minds as they prepare to face Stoke City on Monday night.
“It is embarrassing to lose 6-1, and we have got to use that. We have gone through the game very clearly and we have got to focus really hard and make sure we come out fighting,” said the 27-year-old.
“It’s got to hurt a lot after a performance like this – and it does, trust me – but we have also got to remember the positives, what we had done in the previous weeks and what we can do and how solid we were.
“We looked very good and there’s no reason why we can’t get back to that. We have got to try to focus on our own performance.
“Yes, you do know how many points, you look for other scores, but at the end of the day, we have got it in our own hands to get to where we want to get to and if we do that, we don’t have to worry about the rest.”
On his arrival at the Stadium of Light, manager Paolo Di Canio called each of Sunderland’s remaining Premier League games “cup finals”, and Larsson said it was vital that mentality was brought into the clash with Stoke.
He said: “The gaffer said that when he came in. We had six or seven games and they are all cup finals until we get to where we have to.
“Hopefully that will be on Monday night – but nothing is guaranteed, we have seen that.
“We have put in some terrific displays – we beat Newcastle away, we beat a very strong Everton side at home, and then on the other side, we go and lose to Aston Villa 6-1.
It is embarrassing to lose 6-1.
“If you don’t turn up, you are going to struggle.”
Sunderland are 11/10 to beat Stoke, with the visitors 3/1 to claim the win. Di Canio’s men are also rated as 8/1 to be relegated, with Newcastle 9/2.
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