Sunderland’s Larsson seeks revenge after Aston Villa mauling

Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor goes round Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to score his side's sixth goal of the game.

Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor goes round Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to score his side's sixth goal of the game.

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SEB Larsson says Sunderland have not forgotten their 6-1 mauling by rampant Aston Villa barely six months ago.

And the Swede says his team-mates will use the memory of that painful night to produced a focused performance at Villa Park this weekend.

The defeat back in April immediately took the wind out of the sails of a Paolo Di Canio revival which had seen euphoria engulf Wearside in the wake of back-to-back victories over Newcastle United and Everton.

It was the sort of result which no-one from Sunderland wants to dwell on in a hurry and club legend Gary Rowell suggested this week that the players try to put the crushing defeat out of their minds.

But Larsson said: “You don’t forget a defeat like that in a hurry – and I don’t think you should, either,” said the former Birmingham City man.

“It should be in the back of your mind to keep on reminding you that you don’t ever want a repeat.

“We’ve had a couple of decent results at home, but it’s about doing it away from home as well.

“So we will go to Aston Villa looking to get something from this game.

“First of all, we need the points.

“Second, it is against a team we know that we are capable of taking points from – if we play to the level we have done in recent games.

“But it’s about doing it, not just saying it.

“We have to make sure that we produce a performance out on the pitch.”

Last season’s game saw Stephane Sessegnon sent off, on a night Villa striker Christian Benteke notched a hat-trick and the Black Cats’ defence shipped half-a-dozen goals.

Only four players who started that game are likely to start tomorrow – Larsson, Phil Bardsley, John O’Shea and Adam Johnson - but the Swede says everyone will be conscious of that defeat and the need for the club to start improving their form away from home this season.

Sunderland go into tomorrow’s game bottom of the league but while they may be down at the foot of the Premier League right now, they are far from out.

Larsson is quick to point out that last season Villa were in a similar position as Sunderland are in now but bounced back to finish 15th and he remains quietly convinced the Black Cats will turn things around under Gus Poyet.

“Whatever people think, I’m confident we are going to stay up,” he said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we will be a Premier League team again next season.

“People might say it’s stupid to say that at this point, but it’s just my opinion.

“Maybe the feeling wasn’t quite so strong a couple of months ago, but it certainly is now.

“We were six points away from safety a month or so ago, now it is down to three points.

“I know we are bottom of the league and that is horrific – we shouldn’t be there.

“But a couple of decent results and we could be out of the bottom three.

“And, let’s be honest, a lot of team are struggling this year and that is good news for us because otherwise we would be many more points from safety.”