Cats still up for the fight
BOLO ZENDEN has likened Sunderland's depressing run to being floored by a series of punches, but he feels Steve Bruce is the right man to lift a demoralised squad up off the canvas. The events at Portsmouth on Tuesday night knocked further confidence out of a Black Cats team still to win in 2010, with their winless sequence in the Premier League extended to 12 matches. And while three successive draws represents an improvement, it was the manner of Sunderland's failure to claim three points at Fratton Park that has further drained selfbelief from the players. There might have been fortune about the way Sunderland took the lead, with Darren Bent awarded a penalty for tripping over his own feet, but they pressed the self-destruct button after the restart increasing the pressure on Bruce. Lee Cattermole now serves a two-match ban courtesy of his red card just days after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Wigan. And David Meyler faces a three-match ban for his elbow on Steve Finnan just moments before Portsmouth's lively striker Aruna Dindane headed the bottom club level in the fifth minute of injurytime. Bruce did not hold back in his criticism of Meyler and Cattermole's stupidity after the match, with team-mate Zenden accepting that Sunderland's lack of control prevented a first league win since November. He was not happy because we were playing against ten men for much of the game, said Zenden. It's hard for us because we are not playing well. It can be frustrating when we are in a run like we are, but what we have to do is try to make sure it doesn't affect us. We all have to stick together. That goes for the manager, the players, the staff and the fans. We are going through a horrible run at the moment where we can't win a game but we have to keep focused on getting out of it. We are all in this together and we are all together in there. The manager is frustrated, like we all are, but we are working to get out of this. Hopefully things will turn around soon. Sunderland are now just three points above the relegation zone after a number of results went against them on Wednesday night. I am not in the mood to talk positives, said the 33- year-old. I'm disappointed that we didn't get the three points, so it's not the time to talk like that. I'm not thinking negatively, it's just that if we want to get through this we have to work hard. This is not the best moment to reflect on a defeat because everyone is still sore from it. It hurts. We have another hard game at Arsenal and we have to be ready for it. Having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Portsmouth last month, Sunderland have a free weekend to reflect on their failings before the trip to Arsenal a week on Saturday. Many will be writing the Black Cats off ahead of the trip to the Emirates, but Zenden refuses to think like that. We have to get through it, there's no point feeling sorry for ourselves, said Zenden. At the moment every game is vital. We don't play until we go to Arsenal and that will be just as vital for us. The three points would have been great for us at Portsmouth, we really needed them. We are taking a lot of punches at the moment. What we have to do is take those punches and respond to them. Things will happen for us at some stage and we have to keep going until they do. It's hard to take, but we will get there. Steed Malbranque should be fit for the trip to Arsenal after being given the all-clear in hospital on Tuesday night. Malbranque spent time in hospital after dropping to the floor complaining of chest pains but was allowed to fly home with the rest of the squad on Tuesday night.
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