Sunderland cannot rely on being bogey team against Man City, says O’Shea

John O'Shea
John O'Shea
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JOHN O’SHEA says Sunderland must ignore their bogey team status against Manchester City this weekend despite taking four points off the champions last season.

Sunderland were the only side to come away with a Premier League point from the Etihad Stadium last year after City salvaged a 3-3 draw with two late goals in March’s encounter.

That came just two months after Ji Dong-won’s stoppage time strike earned Sunderland all three points against Roberto Mancini’s men at the Stadium of Light.

But former Manchester United defender O’Shea, who missed March’s clash through injury, has warned Sunderland cannot dwell on their success from last season as they prepared to return to the Etihad on Saturday lunchtime.

O’Shea told the Echo: “We can’t afford to think about last season at all. It’s a totally different situation.

“City have added to their squad and we’ve added to our squad. Saying that, it will be in their minds, definitely, that we took four points off them.

“But we are going to the home of the champions and it’s going to be a tough game because they have some excellent players.”

City face their second Champions League encounter of the campaign against Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad tonight, looking to bounce back from the 3-2 defeat at Real Madrid in their opening group game.

And O’Shea, who made 75 Champions League appearance during his decade at United, knows City’s exertions tonight could have a knock-on effect this weekend, even if Mancini rotates his squad between the two games.

The 31-year-old said: “They have a midweek Champions League game and then at the weekend there is an early kick-off and I know from experience that sometimes there can be a bit of a hangover from that.

“He (Mancini) will probably make a few changes to the team and it will be very difficult to predict what team he will play on Saturday.

“We’re just going to have to make sure that we are ready ourselves.

“Hopefully Johnno (Adam Johnson, who joined Sunderland from City in August) will be able to give us a bit of inside info on how Mr Mancini works.”

Sunderland and City are both yet to taste defeat this season, with leaders Chelsea the only other side who have avoided losing in the top flight so far.

And after following up four successive draws with a maiden league victory against Wigan last weekend, centre-half O’Shea says Sunderland have banished any jitters over the wait for a win.

“There was a little bit (of anxiety) starting to creep in and once the 90 minutes was over against Wigan it was a nice relief,” he added. “It was OK being unbeaten but even when you’re playing well, it is all about winning matches.

“We didn’t play too well against Wigan but we won, whereas we have played better in other games and yet ended up with a draw. But we weren’t too anxious. With the players we have, we knew it was only a matter of time.

“Now we look ahead to the Man City match which is a tough game for us, we are under no illusions about that.

“We will have to play very well, but we can go into it with confidence now we have got that win against Wigan.”