Norwich V Sunderland at Carrow Road : Match Preview

02 December 2012 03:19
Norwich V Sunderland - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hughton backs O'Neill

Chris Hughton is convinced that Martin O'Neill is the right man to lead Sunderland away from the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

The Black Cats manager has found himself under increasing pressure in recent weeks after seeing his Sunderland side win just one of their last nine matches.

O'Neill arrives at his old club Norwich on Sunday knowing a defeat could well plunge his side in to the drop zone with just over a third of their season gone.

Sunderland have regularly been jeered by their own fans for their poor performances this season, but Hughton, who endured a similar run with Norwich at the start of the current campaign, is sure the former Aston Villa boss can turn things around at the Wearside club.

"I think Sunderland probably haven't had the start that they would have liked," Hughton told a press conference.

"They seem a very tight unit. They conceded at home to West Brom the game before last, but they're not a side that looks like conceding a lot of goals.

"Perhaps similarly to ourselves in the early part of the season they've found it difficult to get the amount of goals that they'd want.

"It's about trying to find the balances, but they've got a lot of good footballers, and certainly with Steven Fletcher up front they've got someone that's very exciting and very clinical, and I have no doubt with Martin at the helm they will start picking up the points that they want."

Norwich had to wait seven games until they recorded their first top-flight win under Hughton, but the former Newcastle boss has since presided over a seven-match unbeaten run.

Should they beat Sunderland it will be the first time since 1994 that the Norfolk club have gone eight Premier League matches without defeat.

Hughton has been delighted with how his team have revived their season.

He said: "The players deserve everything that they have had from recent games.

"They wouldn't have been able to get these results without putting the work in.

"The last two games have been away from home and we've gone a goal behind and got ourselves back into the game, which means we've had the ability to finish strong in games, that's always pleasing.

"We know what we have to put in to get results in this division, and we've shown that in abundance.

"As long as you're accumulating points, which we are, then we're doing well."

Sunderland defender Danny Rose has warned his team-mates things will only get tougher as they attempt to relaunch their season.

The Black Cats have won just two of their last 21 league games, a run which saw them slip into 16th place as a result of the midweek round of fixtures.

But with Chelsea due at the Stadium of Light on December 8 and then a trip to Manchester United to come before champions Manchester City and then Tottenham visit Wearside in the space of four days over Christmas, Rose knows picking up points as 2012 draws to a close will be intensely difficult.

He said: "It's not just Norwich, all the games are important. We have got a very, very, very difficult month.

"We have got Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs - they are four games that at the minute, I know there won't be many people who think we will get anything out of those games, so Sunday is a massive game and we are going to have to do everything we can to get three points."

Source: PA