Turner: Tough month ahead for Cats
Sunderland defender Michael Turner has warned his team-mates the next month is going to be just as tough as the last. The Black Cats faced Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United in successive Premier League games as September turned to October, and emerged unbeaten and having conceded just three goals. But despite seeing the club safely negotiate a path around three of the division's traditional powers, Turner is urging caution as they prepare for clashes with less vaunted, but still dangerous opposition. Sunderland head for Blackburn on Monday evening before improving Aston Villa travel to the Stadium of Light ahead of an eagerly-anticipated resumption of derby hostilities with Newcastle at St James' Park on October 31. Turner, 26, said: "It's another tough month for us, we have got some really tough games. "But there are no easy games in this league and you just have to be prepared for each and every one." Both the Gunners and United left Wearside with only a point to show for their efforts, and Liverpool were fortunate to escape with the same reward on their own park when they needed a Steven Gerrard equaliser to avoid defeat after Darren Bent's double had cancelled out Dirk Kuyt's controversial opener. Indeed, such was the confidence with which Steve Bruce's men approached those three games that there was disappointment on Wearside when the international break arrived and threatened to disrupt their momentum. Turner said: "We have put in some good performances and we would have liked to have continued after the Manchester United game. "But the international break came along and you have to deal with it." Central to Sunderland's impressive run of form has been a defence which has proved difficulty to pierce. Indeed, seven league games to date have brought just seven goals against, and two of those were Cesc Fabregas' fluke deflection and the Kuyt strike at Anfield which came after referee Stuart Attwell ruled that Turner had taken a free-kick when he had simply rolled the ball back to keeper Simon Mignolet to allow him to take it. The defender said: "Obviously, we are delighted with that. "Even through we have chopped and changed a little bit in certain positions, to have that record is very pleasing from everyone's point of view, so hopefully that can continue as well." Bruce has ruefully suggested that such defensive resilience last season would have seen the club finish comfortably in the top 10 rather than in 13th place, although Turner is only looking ahead, in the short term to a trip to Ewood Park which will bring predictable challenges. He said: "Last season is last season. We have had a good start this year and we just want it to carry on. "But we have got a tough game on Monday night and that is what we are concentrating on. "We know it is going to be a huge contrast to Manchester United and Liverpool in the way Blackburn play, so we know we are going to have to be prepared and roll our sleeves up and be ready for what they throw at us. "Every team in the league plays with a different style and it is about dealing with whatever is thrown at you. "We will try to stamp our play on the game and concentrate on that, but we know we are going to have to deal with balls into the box and throw our bodies on the line to keep a clean sheet." Bent is facing a race against time to shake off the groin injury with which he returned prematurely from England duty, and record signing Asamoah Gyan is standing by.
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