CRAIG GARDNER says Sunderland must ignore their dreadful record against Everton this weekend and secure the result which will “kick-start” their season.
Sunderland have not tasted victory at Goodison Park since 1996 and haven’t even beaten the Toffees on Wearside for 11 years.
Everton’s midas touch over the Black Cats continued last season after David Moyes’ men salvaged a point at the Stadium of Light with a wrongly-awarded late penalty. knocked Sunderland out of the FA Cup and coasted to victory in the league at Goodison.
But with Sunderland tasting defeat in three of their last five games, Martin O’Neill’s side are in need of a boost and midfielder Gardner insists they have to believe it can come at Goodison on Saturday.
Gardner said: “People talk about bogey teams and all that but you both start with 11 men.
“It is 90 minutes and you have to match up and hopefully Saturday is the big performance we need to kick-start our season.
“It’s probably one of the hardest places to go to. The fans are brilliant and they have a strong team.
“The manager’s brilliant but we need to step up and take it to them and hopefully get the result.
“A season can swing from one big performance and hopefully that big performance will be this weekend.”
Sunderland continue to be hamstrung by their struggles in the final third after mustering just six goals in the Premier League this season.
Gardner believes Sunderland are just lacking fortune going forward, although he concedes they need to be more adventurous.
“You look at some of the other goals in other games with other teams and they’re coming from nothing,” said the 25-year-old.
“I wouldn’t say it was a lack of confidence in players. You need luck. Football, life, is about luck and you need something like Robin van Persie got against Arsenal. The cross comes in, they should have cleared it and it falls straight to his feet.
“We need that sort of luck and we’re not getting that at the minute. We should have had a penalty against Aston Villa with the Christian Benteke handball but we didn’t get it.
“We’re getting close to goal with chances but we’re not taking them. The lack of goals is a problem, it’s a problem we need to sort out.
“We need to score goals, we need to take risks.
“On the other hand we don’t want to go gung-ho and lose the (Everton) game 3-2.
“We’d rather not concede three goals but we have to take risks and we have to get points.”