Larsson urges Sunderland to continue run at Chelsea

CUP JOY ... Sunderland's Seb Larsson.
CUP JOY ... Sunderland's Seb Larsson.
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SEB LARSSON is keen for Sunderland to maintain the momentum from a stunning start to Martin O’Neill’s reign.

Black Cats top scorer Larsson’s sixth goal of the season provided the springboard for a fourth win in five for Sunderland yesterday after coasting past Peterborough to set up an FA Cup fourth round clash with neighbours Middlesbrough.

Sunderland have lost just once under O’Neill since the Ulsterman succeeded Steve Bruce and head to faltering Chelsea on Saturday in buoyant spirits.

Larsson said: “Football is a funny game, isn’t it?

“We seem to be doing things well at the moment and getting that bit of luck when we need it.

“We’d like to keep winning games, we said that before Peterborough, and that’s what we’re going to try to continue to do.”

Larsson returned to the starting line-up at London Road after missing the midweek trip to Wigan due to a tight hamstring.

The Swedish international had ran himself ragged in New Year’s Day’s win over Manchester City after barely recovering from a virus, but recovered in time to replace knee injury victim Nicklas Bendtner yesterday.

O’Neill said: “He (Larsson) played against Manchester City when he was flat out having been in bed the previous day.

“He could not raise a gallop for the match against Wigan, but he has shown a great spirit.

“There is a great spirit among the lads anyway and that is very, very important.”

O’Neill added a word of praise for Craig Gardner, with the £5million summer signing influential in an attacking midfield role behind Stephane Sessegnon.

Ex-Birmingham man Gardner, who continues to be linked with a return to the Midlands, had played at right-back for the previous two games, but was Sunderland’s biggest threat in a mundane first half.

“I know it has been said Craig has not been able to settle with the family, but I am delighted with his form,” said O’Neill.

“He has gone in to play at right-back. It is not his favourite position as he likes to play midfield, but I have been pleased with him as I have the whole team.”