Sunderland stopper Mignolet ready for West Ham battle

Simon Mignolet
Simon Mignolet
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SIMON Mignolet says if Sunderland are to notch their first Premier League win of the season on Saturday, they will need to stand up to a physical West Ham side.

The Black Cats head to Upton Park hoping to record a victory which would put a positive gloss on the three successive draws which have marked the start of their campaign.

But Mignolet warns the Wearsiders will face a completely different brand of football to the silky smooth styles Arsenal, Swansea and Liverpool have offered so far.

“We know how Sam Allardyce shapes up his team, and we know what we are going to come up against,” said the Belgium keeper (pictured).

“There’s a balance between focusing on these things and, at the same time, making sure that you don’t dwell on them.

“I’m sure that, in training this week, we’ll be working on how to defend against their style of play.

“It’s nothing to worry about too much. We just have to concentrate on our own game.”

The Sunderland stopper was arguably his side’s man of the match in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool last Saturday, making a string of fine saves on a day when his side toiled.

But he is certain Sunderland can earn their first win this weekend.

“Liverpool came to us wanting at least a point,” he said.

“They worked their socks off and I think that, in the end, they deserved the draw.

“Now we have West Ham and they are a decent side too, so that will be a difficult game. But I think we have enough quality in our team to beat them at their place.

“Up to now, we have got three draws against Arsenal, Swansea and Liverpool, so those aren’t bad results.

“We just have to work now on getting wins and climbing the table.”

Mignolet has seen off the challenge of Craig Gordon and kept his place as Sunderland’s first-choice this season despite increased pressure from Keiren Westwood.

But he knows that he has to continue to improve if he is to achieve his goals of being number one for club and country.

He said: “In the Premier League, every team has always got at least two very good goalkeepers so you have to work hard and prove yourself in pre-season.

“If you do that, and show that you are ready, then it is up to the manager to make a decision before the first game.

“He chose to stick with me, as he did at the end of last season, and now it is just up to me to do my job and try not to disappoint him.”

But while the 24-year-old is winning the battle at club level, he has dropped behind Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois – currently on a season-long loan to Atletico Madrid – in the international pecking order.

Having been his country’s number one for a spell previously though, Mignolet is taking it in his stride.

“It’s not only at Sunderland I have big competition,” he shrugged. “It is also with Belgium. I see it as a challenge and I’ll try and work hard in training sessions to win the right to play.

“You can only play one goalkeeper, so you just have to do the best you can to earn your place in the team.

“The manager has a lot of goalkeepers to choose from and it’s not always easy to make these decisions.”