Larrson - We Have Suffered!
Sebastian Larsson will use the embarrassment of Sunderland's humiliation at Aston Villa to fuel his bid to help them escape relegation trouble.
The 27-year-old Sweden international admitted he left the pitch at Villa Park on Monday evening suffering the same emotions as the travelling fans who witnessed the 6-1 horror show.
However, he will channel all that into Monday night's home clash with Stoke as he and his team-mates attempt to secure the win manager Paolo Di Canio believed heading into the weekend would end their fears of being sucked back into the fight to avoid the drop.
Asked how they ensured a black night in the Midlands represented nothing more than a blip, Larsson said: "By making sure you feel that pain and how bad it feels.
"As for the fans, we probably feel the same. It's that sickening feeling and embarrassing feeling.
"It is embarrassing to lose 6-1, and we have got to use that. We have gone through the game very clearly and we have got to focus really hard and make sure we come out fighting.
"It's got to hurt a lot after a performance like this - and it does, trust me - but we have also got to remember the positives, what we had done in the previous weeks and what we can do and how solid we were.
"We looked very good and there's no reason why we can't get back to that. We have got to try to focus on our own performance.
"Yes, you do know how many points, you look for other scores, but at the end of the day, we have got it in our own hands to get to where we want to get to and if we do that, we don't have to worry about the rest."
The Black Cats go into the game sitting just two points above the drop zone in the wake of 18th-placed Wigan's 3-2 victory at West Brom on Saturday.
Villa dragged themselves closer to safety with a 2-1 win at Norwich, while Newcastle collected a point from their 0-0 draw at West Ham to leave the Black Cats hovering anxiously above the bottom three.
In the circumstances, Sunderland need to take something, and ideally all three points, against Stoke in the latest of a series of fixtures labelled as "cup finals" by Di Canio.
Larsson said: "The gaffer said that when he came in. We had six or seven games and they are all cup finals until we get to where we have to.
"Hopefully that will be on Monday night - but nothing is guaranteed, we have seen that.
"We have put in some terrific displays - we beat Newcastle away, we beat a very strong Everton side at home, and then on the other side, we go and lose to Aston Villa 6-1.
"If you don't turn up, you are going to struggle."
Larsson, of course, knows the pain of relegation only too well after suffering the drop with former club Birmingham at the end of the 2010-11 season.
The Blues went down less than three months after winning the Carling Cup at Wembley, where Wigan will face Manchester City in the FA Cup final on May 11 in the midst of their own bid for safety.
Larsson said: "When I was in that situation, the final was a lot earlier on in the season.
"When you have only got a certain amount of games to go, you can give your all in every single game.
"I suppose it can work both ways, but it's nothing we put a lot of energy into.
"You know what Wigan are capable of towards the end of the season, so we are just trying to focus on where we have to get to.
"We have put ourselves recently in a good position to get there. It still looks a lot brighter now than it did three weeks ago.
"You have definitely got to use that performance against Villa to your advantage and step up to the mark, but also remember to keep the positives, that we have put ourselves in a situation where it's fully under our control."
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