NEXT UP for Sunderland is one of the season’s longest journeys to Southampton and the Fulham defeat must be quickly removed from the system.
The players need to be fully prepared for a game against a team that will be full of confidence after their win at West Brom.
We took all three points at St Mary’s last season, but this time around, it could be far tougher as Southampton have a number of a good young players while in Rickie Lambert, a not-so-young player who is having the best time of his career.
After the Fulham game, Sunderland’s new players will know what the Premier League is all about and I hope they will benefit from another full week with Di Canio on the training ground.
We must remember that a new team needs time to gel, but the Premier League is an unforgiving competition and the players must learn quickly.
With us being the away team, I expect Southampton to put us under a lot more pressure than Fulham did.
But that could work in our favour as I feel we sometimes struggle against teams who defend deep and in numbers, whereas Southampton will want to come at us and allow Sunderland to play on the counter-attack.
That should suit players like Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and Emanuele Giaccherini, who might find they have a bit more space and freedom.
Keeping Lambert quiet will be on the agenda for the coaching staff, but I think they will also be looking to contain Southampton’s highly-rated left-back Luke Shaw.
The battle between Shaw and Johnson could be very interesting and whoever wins that duel could have a big influence on the result.
Southampton have spent big money over the summer and again this week with the £15million capture of Italy international Pablo Osvaldo.
It shows a club with ambition, looking to progress and they will expect a return on that investment.
Sunderland will know Saturday’s game promises to be a tough one, but they need to get points on the board as soon as possible.