SIMON Mignolet believes the FA Cup provides Sunderland with a better opportunity to end their Goodison Park curse than if they were heading to Merseyside in the Premier League.
Everton have held the Midas touch over Sunderland during David Moyes’ 10-year reign, with the Toffees boss yet to suffer defeat against the Black Cats.
Sunderland have lost eight of their last 10 visits to Goodison, not winning there since triumphing via a penalty shoot-out in the final 16 of the League Cup in November 1998.
But Belgian goalkeeper Mignolet says the unpredictable nature of the cup can act in Sunderland’s favour as they attempt to reach the semi-finals of the competition this weekend.
Mignolet told the Echo: “It’s a big cup game and Everton are a good side, who got a great result against Tottenham last weekend.
“They’ve got some really good players, people like Marouane Fellaini, who I play with in the national team. He’s dangerous in the box, a good header of the ball and he’s very strong, so we’ll have to be on our guard against him.
“We don’t have a great record against Everton recently, but, in a cup game, anything can happen. Hopefully we can put it right.
“Normally, a record like that might be something you think about when it’s a Premier League game.
“But, in the FA Cup, it’s a totally different atmosphere so hopefully that will help us.”
He added: “The derby games are very special up here, but I don’t really want to think about Saturday as a massive game because we don’t need to put extra pressure on ourselves. We just need to try to win the game and get through to the next round.”
Mignolet registered his 10th clean sheet of the season in last weekend’s victory over Everton’s neighbours Liverpool as Sunderland continued their impressive defensive form.
The former St Truiden stopper believes the confidence Sunderland have developed at the back has helped the likes of Jack Colback and Wayne Bridge – who replaced the suspended Lee Cattermole and injured Kieran Richardson last weekend – to maintain the resilience of Martin O’Neill’s side.
The 24-year-old added: “It sounds obvious, but it’s always easier to win a game when you get a clean sheet.
“You only need one goal to win the game.
“We’ve been very steady recently and we’ve got a lot of competition in the back four now when everyone is fit.
“That keeps everyone on their toes and has helped everyone to keep playing well. Hopefully we can keep doing that.
“Bridge came in and didn’t have much to do against Liverpool.
“He’s had a couple of games as a sub, but it’s different to starting a game and he did well against Liverpool. I think he’s probably enjoying it here.”