SEB LARSSON hopes Sunderland can upset the odds on the opening day for the second successive season.
Sunderland midfielder Larsson returns to former club Arsenal for the Premier League opener this Saturday, with the Black Cats facing a daunting task against last season’s third-placed side.
But the Wearsiders faced a similarly tall ordeal on the top flight’s curtain raiser last year when they secured a 1-1 draw at a then buoyant Liverpool.
Larsson insists Sunderland are eagerly awaiting the chance to test themselves at the Emirates, as Martin O’Neill begins his first full season in charge.
“It’ll be good to finally play competitive games again,” said Larsson.
“Going to a big club like Arsenal on the first day is a great way to kick the new season off.
“It’ll be a tough game and it will be tough to go there and come away with something.
“But we’ve done it before and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Sunderland cannot claim to be heading into the campaign in form though after suffering a fourth defeat in six pre-season outings at Leicester City on Saturday.
O’Neill’s side found the net just four times during pre-season and tasted victory only once – the Peace Cup encounter against Dutch outfit Groningen.
But Larsson says Sunderland have achieved the principal pre-season aim of restoring fitness and insists no-one will be dwelling on results.
“Pre-season is over now and fitness levels are up,” added the 27-year-old, now with the Sweden squad ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with Brazil.
“Obviously, when you look at the results it’s been quite disappointing, but it was pre-season and results aren’t so important.
“We put all that behind us and we look ahead to the new season now, we’re looking forward to getting started.
“I feel fit and mentally, I’m ready for the new season.”