Sunderland must take inspiration from last season’s escape, says Jermain Defoe

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe loses out as Laurent Koscielny heads clear for Arsenal. Picture by Frank Reid

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe loses out as Laurent Koscielny heads clear for Arsenal. Picture by Frank Reid

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Jermain Defoe refuses to be downbeat despite Sunderland’s perilous position – and he has urged his team-mates to draw on last season’s escape.

The 34-year-old scored his fifth goal in 10 league appearances on Saturday, levelling the scores from the penalty spot.

But Sunderland caved, conceding three goals in the space of six-and-a-half minutes as Arsenal ran riot, thrashing the Black Cats 4-1.

It leaves David Moyes’ side seven points adrift of safety already ahead of a crucial couple of games against Bournemouth away and fellow strugglers Hull City at home.

Defoe has called on his team-mates to take inspiration from must-win games last season on their way to survival.

“Villa last season was must-win, Norwich away. We managed to do it when we needed to,” said Defoe.

“It is a new season. You can’t look to the past, you have to look to the future and improve. I just feel that little bit of luck, a few times last season we got a bit of luck.

“We need that. Then hopefully it can give these fans something to cheer about.

“I don’t allow myself to get down, I always look forward to the next game. As a forward, when you score you look forward because you want to keep it going.

“That is the mentality we have to have. Forget about this game. Move onto the next and prepare for that. There is still a lot of football to play.

“We have to be strong, stick together and turn it around.

“It is frustrating for everyone – everyone is working so hard. It is not for the want of trying, these bad results.

“There is no point me standing here being negative.

“We have to remain positive like last season and hopefully we can get that win sooner, rather than later.”

Arsenal had two thirds of the possession, with 21 attempts. It was a dominant display from the Gunners.

“Arsenal do that against most teams anyway, even in Europe. Most teams they play against, they will have more possession,” added Defoe.

“We knew that beforehand, that is why it is important to keep a good shape and not get frustrated.

“It is difficult because you lose again, it is hard to pick yourself back up.

“That is the reality though, we have to be men.

“We have to make sure we go back into training ahead of Bournemouth, stick together and prepare for that game which is a massive one.”

Interim England boss Gareth Southgate was watching the game at the Stadium of Light ahead of the upcoming international break.

Defoe’s team-mate Jordan Pickford was called into the last England squad, but the 34-year-old striker insists his focus is firmly on helping Sunderland get out of trouble.

He added: “I’m not worried about that. Even last season, with the goals I scored, I didn’t get a call-up.

“I just want to focus on my club. I would never turn my back on England, I love playing for my country.

“First and foremost, I want to play football for my club, score goals and help the team and hopefully we can get that first win.”