GUS POYET wants Sunderland to break through the 20-point barrier before the turn of the year.
Sunderland have proved to be the draw specialists of the Premier League so far this season after finishing all-square in nine of their 15 outings – five of which have been goalless.
But head coach Poyet is keen for Sunderland to register at least two wins from their remaining four games in 2014 – today’s clash against West Ham, followed by the Tyne-Wear derby, Boxing Day’s visit of Hull and the trip to Aston Villa on December 28.
A pair of victories would take Sunderland beyond 20 points at the halfway mark of the campaign and give Poyet’s side a solid foundation for the second half of the season; certainly a more stable footing than last year when it took the Black Cats until the end of January to reach that benchmark.
Poyet told the Echo: “My idea now is to pass the 20 points before January, somehow.
“We need two, three or four wins.
“Then we can look at the FA Cup and what is coming after that.
“That would be a much better situation than last year.
“Perfection would be winning the four.
“Maybe that’s not realistic, but other teams do it somehow.
“If we don’t win four, we need to win three. If we don’t win three, we need to win two.
“I’m not thinking about drawing any more.
“We’ve been the kings of the draw, but now it’s about winning.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to play with four strikers and play crazy football.
“But we need to win.”
Inevitably, thoughts have already begun to turn to next Sunday’s clash at St James’s Park, as Sunderland bid for an unprecedented fourth successive win over Newcastle United.
And Poyet admits that if Sunderland can come away with three points against the Hammers, it will give the Black Cats the perfect platform to face the Magpies.
“If we win today, then the derby will come at a great time for us,” he added.
“It makes today’s game special, not because of the derby, but because of the points.”
* Follow our Sunderland-West Ham matchday blog – the build-up starts from 11am on this website