SIMON Mignolet admits Sunderland will have a job on their hands tomorrow containing his international team-mate Marouane Fellaini.
The midfield powerhouse is in the form of his life with five goals in Everton’s opening nine games and is at last getting the recognition the Sunderland keeper feels he deserves.
The paths of the two 24-year-olds paths first crossed when Fellaini was winning the Belgian league title with Standard Liege and Mignolet was making his breakthrough at Saint Truiden.
And Mignolet says he has enjoyed seeing how the comparative unknown that David Moyes paid Liege £15m for in 2008 has gradually become a household name.
“I think Marouane has shown enough people now what he can do,” said the keeper who has caught the eye himself this season. “I think people understand how good he is.
“His style of play is perfectly suited for the English game.
“He has always done really well for us in the Belgian team – he is one of the best players we have – but he is also showing now how good he is for Everton now.
“They are doing really well and he is doing really well and he has become a big part of how they play – they’re not quite the same team when he does not play for them and they have to alter their style a little.
“The Belgian people understand how important he is to our national team.
“He is massive for us and he is massive for Everton too now - we just have to hope he’s a little less good than normal when he comes to play us!”
While he’s a big admirer of Fellaini, Mignolet is the first to concede that Everton are far more than a one-man team.
But the keeper, who followed Fellaini’s footsteps to the English Premier League in 2010, says that Sunderland cannot afford to dwell on their opponents’ strengths – which include a formidable record in recent years in this fixture.
The Toffeemen have not lost to the Black Cats in over a decade and not at Goodison Park since 1996.
But Mignolet insists Sunderland won’t even give those stats a second thought on Saturday.
“We will go into the game without any thought of past records or results,” he said. “It is simply another game for us and one we want to win.
“This is a whole different team from the one we had even just a couple of years ago, so we are largely fresh to the fixture as a Sunderland side.
“I don’t think the previous record will be a factor but I do think what is a fact is that Everton are a good team so we know it is not going to be an easy game.
“We just have to focus on the fact that we are playing a good team on their own ground and we have to make sure we do ourselves justice.”
Doing themselves justice will be Sunderland’s theme for the match after feeling they let themselves down against Middlesbrough in the cup last week before being unlucky against Aston Villa at the weekend.
Mignolet revealed: “Everyone was disappointed with the result against Villa last Saturday, especially as we went into the dressing room at half-time feeling we could definitely win the game.
“We went out for the second half saying let’s come back with all three points.
“But not only did we not win but we did not get the draw either despite plenty of possession and pressure.
“It was very disappointing because we had a chance to win. But we have to move on and look forward to the next game.
“We know that this next game is going to be difficult but we have to be motivated, keep our self belief and try to get another win.”