VITO MANNONE says Sunderland will wait until the New Year before setting a survival tally.
Sunderland ended a run of five successive away defeats with a draw at Aston Villa on Saturday, yet the gulf between the Black Cats and the safety mark increased to five points, with West Ham and Norwich both getting precious weekend victories.
Given Sunderland boasted just a solitary point from eight games when Gus Poyet took charge, goalkeeper Mannone is not particularly worried by that margin with fourth bottom Cardiff City.
The former Arsenal man says Sunderland are only concerned with accumulating as many points as possible during six games in December – starting with tonight’s visit of Chelsea – before setting themselves a January target for what is needed to remain in the top flight.
“A few weeks ago, we were seven or eight points behind, so you can see it (the safety gap increasing to five) on the other side of the coin,” said Mannone. “I think we only need to look at ourselves.
“We’ve been playing well. We need to take the Aston Villa result and go into the Chelsea game and try to get as many points as we can.
“Then we can hopefully give ourselves a target from January in terms of points.
“We’ve got so many games, but we need to focus on ourselves (not the table) because we will play teams in or around us.”
Chelsea are bidding for a ninth successive Stadium of Light win tonight after Sunday’s comeback against Southampton moved Jose Mourinho’s side up to second in the table.
But Sunderland can boast a 100 per cent home record under ex-Chelsea midfielder Poyet and Mannone believes the visitors will be wary of their trip to Wearside after the Black Cats’ win over Manchester City in their last Stadium of Light outing.
Mannone added: “Chelsea are maybe thinking that it will be difficult for them because we beat Man City.
“We can’t fear Chelsea. They’re another big club like Man City, who we were able to beat.
“It’s a big test against Chelsea, but in the last four or five games, I think something has clicked.
“We need to keep this mentality and I think we’ll be alright for the season.
“It’s very early, but we need to keep playing like we have been and hopefully get more points.
“We’re confident going into these games. It won’t be an easy game for anybody. We need to be as tough as we have been in the last few games, particularly like we were against Man City.
“Hopefully we can get the crowd going. We need them, they’ve been brilliant so far.
“We need a big push from them because now we are playing for our lives.
“We really want to stay up and do well.”