MICHAEL Turner admits Sunderland need a wake-up call to stop gifting opposition sides an early advantage.
It took Arsenal just 29 seconds to break the deadlock at the Emirates yesterday as Robin Van Persie opened the scoring, with the Dutchman condemning Sunderland to a third defeat in five with a late free-kick.
Although Sunderland rallied to level before the interval and spurned two glorious opportunities to take a half-time lead, Steve Bruce’s side have struggled to strike an early blow this season.
Sunderland have broken the deadlock just once in the opening eight games – in their solitary victory against Stoke City – and conceded twice within the first five minutes in their previous encounter against West Brom.
Centre-half Turner knows it’s a trait Sunderland can ill-afford to repeat at fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, with the third bottom Trotters just a place below the Black Cats in the bottom reaches of the Premier League table.
Turner told the Echo: “It’s a big game now for us on Saturday and we go to Bolton needing to put in a performance, like we did for periods of yesterday’s match.
“I’m sure we can and then we’ll start getting results. Before we went out yesterday, we said that we needed to have a good start and keep them quiet.
“It’s bitterly disappointing to concede so early in the game – that can’t keep happening.
“We need to put that right straight away, starting with Bolton.”
Turner admits there was a sense of what might have been in the Sunderland dressing room at the interval after Jack Colback and Lee Cattermole both failed to capitalise on Seb Larsson’s equalising free-kick, his third goal of the campaign.
Sunderland, who had struggled to contain Arsene Wenger’s side during the early stages of the first half, kept Arsenal at bay after the break only to be undone by Van Persie’s second of the game.
“We feel like we could have won the game, certainly after the first half when we weathered the early storm,” added Turner. “We played some good stuff and created the best three chances of the game.
“We were disappointed we didn’t come in leading, although we’d have probably taken a draw going in after the first 20 minutes.
“It was a wonderful free-kick from Seb.
“Everyone knows he’s capable of that and we created a couple of good chances that fell to Jack and Catts. It’s disappointing we couldn’t put one of them away.
“In the second half, we knew they’d have more of the possession, but we were fairly comfortable in terms of them creating chances.
“We restricted them to long-range efforts and a few free-kicks, one of which we’ve eventually been undone by.
“We said during the second half that we needed to stop giving away the free-kicks before they put one in the top corner.
“It’s obviously disappointing that we’ve come away with nothing.”