SUNDERLAND’S goal difference will be a decent barometer of their attempts to move to a healthier league position, says Gus Poyet.
The Black Cats took a battering in the goal difference column after their 8-0 rout at Southampton earlier this month, with last weekend’s 2-0 defeat against Arsenal further aggravating their vital statistics.
Only bottom two QPR and Burnley, plus an Aston Villa side on the back of a five-game losing streak, boast an inferior total to Sunderland’s current tally of minus nine.
Poyet says he was surprised by how much attention was paid to goal difference on these shores when he moved from Spain’s La Liga to join Chelsea in 1997.
But the head coach believes that if third-bottom Sunderland can creep their total back up towards zero, then it will correspond with a much-improved league position.
Poyet told the Echo: “When I came to England in 97, goal difference was key and I was thinking ‘what are you talking about?’
“People only care about that in Spain at the end of the season when there’s two teams together to win the league.
“Here it was very important, positive and negative. Then slowly, we’ve lost that. But it gives you a great indication. If you are close to zero then you should be all right, for sure.
“Without an 8-0, we would be!
“If we can get back to zero, then we’re going to be top 10 because you need to compensate for an 8-0.”
Poyet’s comments are born out by recent history, with the three sides relegated from the Premier League in each of the last three seasons suffering from the worst goal difference in the division.
Four sides – Aston Villa, plus the final bottom three of Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich – had inferior goal difference tallies last year compared to Sunderland, who finished in 14th spot.