PATRICK van Aanholt says Sunderland must make the most of their slender one-point advantage in the battle to beat the drop.
Sunderland’s position in the relegation dogfight has grown increasingly precarious over the last fortnight after their capitulation against Crystal Palace coincided with Leicester extending their winning streak to three games.
If we win our games, we will stay up, it’s in our handsPatrick van Aanholt
Dick Advocaat’s side could fall into the bottom three for only the second time this season tomorrow, if they suffer defeat at Stoke while both Hull and Leicester collect at least a point at Crystal Palace and Burnley respectively.
But while nerves are frayed over Sunderland’s plight, left-back van Aanholt has stressed that regardless of what the other sides at the bottom do, the Black Cats’ fate remains in their own hands heading into the final six games.
“Of course you look at the results of the other teams, but really it doesn’t concern us,” said the ex-Chelsea man.
“If we win our games and do well, we will stay up.
“So I’m not really worried about other sides’ results, we have to concentrate on our own.
“We are still a point above the line. If we win our games, we will stay up, it’s in our hands.
“As for Stoke, we beat them in the league at home, and lost against them in the cup.
“They are a physical side, with good strikers.
“They like to play a longer game and to go for second balls.
“We have to be able to deal with that, but more importantly we have to go there, play our own game, and take the three points.”
The majority of Sunderland’s squad know what it takes to successfully avoid the drop after the Black Cats were seven points adrift of safety at the same stage of last season, before staging the Great Escape.
This year’s situation is far less perilous, and van Aanholt insists there is a mood of confidence in the Sunderland camp that they can extend their eight-year stay in the Premier League.
The Dutch international added: “Everyone in the dressing room is positive. We all believe we can get out of this.
“If you are going to stay up, you have to stay positive.
“Some of the lads who were here last year have said we were in a much worse position at this stage last season and got out of it.
“Of course, I wasn’t here then, but I want to make sure we survive again.”