GUS POYET believes it will be a major demonstration of Sunderland’s progress if they can smash through the 20-point barrier before the halfway point of the campaign.
A draw in today’s visit of Hull City will be sufficient for Sunderland to reach 20 points, albeit head coach Poyet has his sights firmly set on recording back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season.
It took Sunderland until the end of January to exceed 20 points last season, but last weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby triumph has put the Black Cats in pole position to reach that target before the next two games mark the halfway point of the campaign.
Sunderland will also have reached that landmark by losing the fewest games of any side currently lying outside the top six, with Poyet’s men suffering just four defeats.
Poyet told the Echo: “My aim was to get over 20 points before we played Man City (on New Year’s Day).
“We’ll see. It took us seven months last year to get that many.
“Even without winning enough games, we are a different team - more competitive, difficult to play against.
“Before the Newcastle game, I saw that there were three or four teams with two or three games lost.
“The rest are six to eight.
“Yes, the draws are not always good, but, at the same time, you don’t get beat.”
Sunderland’s festive programme began in perfect fashion with victory at Newcastle United, with today’s clash, followed by Sunday’s trip to Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa pitting the Black Cats against two sides in the bottom half of the table.
And Poyet knows that if Sunderland’s Christmas schedule continues to be productive, then it will have a significant bearing on what lies in store during the second half of the season.
“I always thought during my playing career and now as a manager that Christmas time is fantastic,” he added.
“If you do well, you jump five or six positions in two weeks without even realising it.
“It’s a great moment to put yourself in a great position.”