Jaded Yann M’Vila admits he’s feeling the effects of the Premier League’s festive programme, particularly after so little competitive football before arriving at Sunderland.
M’Vila has been an ever-present for Sunderland since coming into the side for the second game of the season against Norwich, with the French international starting all four matches over the two-week Christmas period.
Until I came here, I’d not really played much football for a year.Yann M’Vila
But this is the first season of the 25-year-old’s career that he has not benefited from a winter break after playing all his previous football on the Continent.
M’Vila’s energy levels have been further tested by just 12 games in the 12 months prior to joining Sunderland after being used sparingly on loan Inter Milan and then failing to even appear in a pre-season friendly when he trained with Dynamo Moscow during the summer.
Along with other Sunderland regulars, M’Vila was given extra time off earlier this week before returning to training today and he hopes that leaves him refreshed for three upcoming away games in the space of eight days.
M’Vila said: “It’s the first time I’ve played over the Christmas period and I have to admit it’s difficult, because remember, before I came here I hadn’t played very much.
“Last season at Inter, I hadn’t played a lot of games and none at all when I was with Dynamo during the summer.
“Until I came here, I’d not really played much football for a year.
“It’s true that I’ve begun to feel a bit tired over recent games, but the manager gave us a few days off.
“Hopefully that will help me to get my energy back.
“I feel like I’ve needed a rest because it’s a long time since I’ve played as much as this.
“I think it’s been important for me to recuperate right for the games coming up.”
M’Vila is likely to be one of those players rested for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at Arsenal, with Sam Allardyce keen to keep his key figures fresh for next Wednesday’s crucial trip to fellow strugglers Swansea.
Sunderland head into that encounter against fourth bottom Swansea with their survival hopes still alive after ending a run of five successive defeats with a crucial win over Aston Villa last weekend.
“We had to show something for the supporters against Aston Villa and fight for the cause because we are in such a bad league position,” added M’Vila.
“It’s fantastic that we were able to get that result and it should give us some more confidence.
“We have to follow that up in the next game.
“Of course, it’s still difficult, but it’s looking a little bit healthier after that win.
“We’ve kept in contact with those teams above us and in the next match, we can close the gap a bit further.
“Staying in the Premier League and the fight against relegation is so important for us.
“But at the same time, you always want to do well in the cup.
“We know what a strong team Arsenal are and they’re fighting for the title, but why can’t we cause an upset?
“We’ve got a good group, good players here and a manager who knows how to change his approach for each game to give us the maximum chance.”