DAVID VAUGHAN believes the heat will be on Aston Villa in tonight’s crunch relegation showdown.
Victory at Villa Park this evening would move Sunderland to the 40-point survival mark – and up to 11th place – and leave Paolo Di Canio’s side needing just a point to effectively confirm their Premier League status, due to their vastly superior goal difference.
But safety remains a distant proposition for Villa, whose momentum from three wins in four games has been halted by just a solitary point from the last two.
The final two games of the season are daunting ones for Paul Lambert’s side, with the visit of Champions League-chasing Chelsea, followed by a last-day showdown at fellow strugglers Wigan.
And that makes tonight’s encounter, together with next weekend’s trip to Norwich, not safe themselves, all the more important for the hosts.
Sunderland midfielder Vaughan (pictured) hopes Di Canio’s side can take advantage of that extra pressure by registering a third successive top-flight win for the first time since February last year.
Vaughan told the Echo: “A few weeks ago, the finishing line looked so far away for us.
“But two wins have made such a big difference. We just need to get that extra one now and hopefully then we’ll be there.
“The pressure’s on Villa. Obviously they’re at home and need the points.
“We do as well, but hopefully we can go in there with a bit of confidence and take advantage of the pressure on them.”
Despite victories over Newcastle and Everton handing Sunderland a major boost in the survival battle, Vaughan insists there has been no let-up this week from head coach Di Canio.
And with the Italian transforming the club’s prospects during just four weeks in the hot-seat, Vaughan says the players have immediately bought into the former West Ham striker’s methods.
The Welsh international added: “You can see what he’s like. He’s not going to let us lie down and enjoy it.
“We’ve still got a job to do and hopefully we can do that tonight.
“If you’re getting results and you see the progress you’re making from the training pitch, you get on board with his ideas.
“I think it’s been quite easy to buy into it. That’s happened and everyone is right behind the manager.
“He’s obviously a character and his celebrations have been enjoyable to watch so hopefully we can see a few more of those.”