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Premier League

Wes Brown urges Sunderland to maintain good form


Wes Brown has insisted the men who got Sunderland into their early-season difficulties can get them out again after a welcome resurgence.

Brown clinched a second Barclays Premier League victory in three games for new manager Martin O'Neill with an 89th-minute winner at QPR on Wednesday evening to move the Black Cats three points clear of the drop zone.

The triumphs over Blackburn and QPR either side of a narrow defeat at Tottenham have doubled the club's tally for the season, and swiftly reached O'Neill's initial target of establishing a one-point-per-game ratio with 17 matches played.

They will now seek to build upon that as Everton and then leaders Manchester City head for the Stadium of Light over the holiday period.

And while that might prove challenging, Brown is confident they have what it will take.

He said: "We have always had it. The players haven't changed, we have always had it in the team.

"We managed to get that break on Wednesday night, and hopefully we can carry on from there and have a good Christmas period.

"If you look at Everton at the moment, you could probably say they are not playing to their best ability as well, so we can go into the game confident.

"We are at home - that's all we can do. We got three points at QPR, which is the main reason we went there.

"If we had scraped three points, I still would have been happy with a 1-0, 5-4.

"It doesn't really matter, we got the three points, and now we can take it into the next game."

Brown, who arrived on Wearside with team-mate John O'Shea from Manchester United during the summer, will perhaps not be aware of the club's recent record against Everton.

Sunderland have not beaten the Toffees in 14 attempts in all competitions, and the Merseysiders have won 11 of those encounters, 10 of them in the Barclays Premier League.

Manager Martin O'Neill has been made aware of that statistic and is treating it as just another challenge.

Asked how one team can have a stranglehold over another for an extended period, he said: "There can be a very obvious reason - some team can be just miles better than the other one over a period of time, or there might have been games here where Sunderland could have got a result and didn't do.

"Then you start worrying about statistics and when the whole thing is going to change.

"But it is up to us to try to do something about that. I can't account for recent history, but that is something I am hoping won't be in the players' minds as we take the field."

In addition, the Black Cats will attempt to win back-to-back league games for the first time since they defeated Blackburn and Aston Villa inside five days in January as they look to build upon Wednesday night's 3-2 victory at QPR.

O'Neill said: "We go into the game in really good spirit because of the win on Wednesday evening and the manner in which we won, letting a two-goal lead slip and then coming through in the end.

"It was great to win the game. It gives us those extra points that we desperately need and puts us in fine fettle now.

"We haven't won back-to-back games for quite some considerable time and it might be an opportunity for us to do it.

"That's the way you could look at it, anyway - but the opposition is pretty tough."