Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill: Baggies fourth on merit

NO QUIT THREAT: Martin O'Neill
NO QUIT THREAT: Martin O'Neill
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MARTIN O’Neill insists West Brom’s Champions League position does not flatter them.

Sunderland’s opponents this Saturday arrive on Wearside in fourth place in the league and the Black Cats boss says they are there on merit.

He said: “West Brom haven’t over-performed at all in terms of the results they’ve had.

“If anything, I’m sure they will argue that they should have had more points – especially in their game at Newcastle.

“They have four great chances in that game that I can remember and then they lost the game to a 94th minute deflected goal.

“The fact is, they have done very well this season – exceptionally well.

“They’ve needed to win some very big games, particularly at home and they’ve had a fantastic start to the season - pretty much two points a game, which after 12 games is great going.

“They have been resilient and exciting and they will be tough opponents so let’s give them due credit.

“They’ve also lost two games in a row and fought back brilliantly from that and that’s the mark of a good side.

“We as a team will be giving them our respect but we are at home, looking forward to the game, and looking to get all three points.”

Despite giving fulsome praise to Albion, O’Neill is determined to engineer the Baggies downfall this weekend and is convinced that his players are now running into the form to do so.

“The Fulham game was a big confidence booster for us,” he agreed.

“Some of the players we’ve felt haven’t reached their proper potential this season certainly showed what they were all about against Fulham.

“Stephane Sessegnon scored a fantastic goal but he’s capable of scoring more goals generally.

“I think that sometimes he sees himself as more of an assist player but I think he should go for goal more often -I certainly think he is a double figures a season, every season player.

“Steven Fletcher is very important to us and has been exceptional for us throughout this season.

“The goal he scored was a great one - regardless of Adam Johnson’s fine pass. He still had everything to do.

“And then there’s Johnson himself, who had a hand in all three goals and is now looking as though he is coming to terms with things after injuries.

“So we’re looking forward to the match with confidence and I can assure fans that we are not looking too far ahead.

“There’s talk of two quick home games in a row but we’re only thinking about one game at the moment and that’s the visit of West Brom tomorrow. We have to give that our full and undivided attention.”