Arsenal target Jordan Pickford living the dream at Sunderland

Jordan Pickford makes a save.
Jordan Pickford makes a save.
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Jordan Pickford is living the dream at Sunderland after firmly establishing himself in the first team.

The 22-year-old, a reported January target of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, broke into the side in August after Vito Mannone was ruled out with an elbow injury.

Washington-born Pickford hasn't looked back since, producing a string of superb performances for the Black Cats.

After going the opening 10 games without a win, third-bottom Sunderland have turned their season around in the past two months with four wins from seven Premier League games.

And Pickford is delighted to be playing a key role for Sunderland this season.

"I could play every day if I had to," said Pickford.

"I felt like the more games I play the better I'll get as a keeper and the more mature I'll become.

"Over the years on loan I've shown what I'm capable of doing out on the pitch. I've always thought I was good enough.

"It was just about being patient and waiting for the right time to go and show them what I can do.

"It's always been my dream to play for Sunderland.

"I've been here since I was seven or eight and for my family and everyone who has supported me since I was younger it has been great for us," he told Soccer Saturday in an interview to be aired on Boxing Day.

Sunderland head to Manchester United on Boxing Day looking to build on the 1-0 win over Watford.

Pickford added: "We've had a really good run. It's four of the last seven we've won and that's been massive for us.

"I kept saying in interviews before that we weren't far away from getting to grips with things. Now we've got to grips and everyone is working well together.

"I think it's the click of the squad. New faces have come in.

"Putting in the hard work on the training ground into practice in the matches is what we needed to do and I feel like that's what is helping us."

Summer signing Victor Anichebe's arrival in the Sunderland side has given David Moyes' team a huge lift, changing the way the Black Cats play.

And Pickford, called up to the last England squad, says Anichebe's form has proved a key turning point in the season.

Pickford added: "When I first got in the side I was kicking it up to JD and its quite hard because he's not the biggest. He's strong but other lads were overpowering him.

"Now we've got a target man with Vic, who can spin them. He's a really powerful lad, huge and we can work off him.

"That helps us to get up the pitch."

* Jordan Pickford will feature on the Soccer Special on Boxing Day.