CHARIS Mavrias says Sunderland must use their second-half display against Arsenal as a benchmark for moving off the bottom of the Premier League.
The Black Cats succumbed to a third defeat in four top-flight outings on Saturday, to leave Paolo Di Canio’s side propping up the table with a solitary point.
But Sunderland’s second-half performance – after Arsenal had dominated the opening 45 minutes – was arguably as good as they have produced all season, with Di Canio’s men rightly aggrieved at referee Martin Atkinson’s decision to rule out Jozy Altidore’s equaliser at 2-2.
Greek winger Mavrias says Sunderland can draw confidence from their improvement after the break though, ahead of a crunch trip to second-bottom West Brom this Saturday.
Mavrias told the Echo: “The first half was much better than the second half.
“We understood that we had to press Arsenal more highly up the pitch and we did that.
“And I think we were much better because of that.
“Of course, we can use that second-half performance.
“The manager said it was a good test and maybe we can use that for the games coming up.”
Mavrias was handed his first Premier League start against the Gunners after £6million summer signing Emanuele Giaccherini was ruled out with a slight hamstring problem.
Giaccherini is expected to be back in contention for the trip to The Hawthorns, but Mavrias was pleased to make his full Sunderland debut, albeit he was left with mixed emotions at the result.
“It was a very nice feeling to get my first Premier League start,” added the 19-year-old, signed in a £2.5m move from Greek outfit Panathinaikos during the summer.
“I’m happy with that, but I’m not so happy with the result because I think we deserved something more from the game.”
Meanwhile, deadline-day departure Stephane Sessegnon is expected to make his West Brom debut against former club Sunderland.
Sessegnon was ineligible for the Baggies’ 1-1 draw at Fulham on Saturday due to work permit issues, but the club record £6m signing should be available to face the Black Cats.