BILLY JONES says Sunderland would be desperate to gain revenge over Southampton tomorrow – even if they were free from relegation worries.
Anything less than victory against Southampton this weekend could prove to be fatal to Sunderland’s survival hopes, with the Black Cats running out of time to secure their Premier League status.
We could be sitting here on 50 points and still wanting to get revenge on SouthamptonBilly Jones
But if Sunderland’s players needed any extra motivation, then they only need to cast their minds back to October’s 8-0 spanking at St Mary’s.
Southampton ran riot that day, but were given a helping hand by Sunderland’s staggering implosion, with Saints boss Ronald Koeman admitting yesterday that his side “didn’t play really well”.
Full-back Jones was on the sidelines for that humiliation on the south coast, but knows the memories will still be vivid for his team-mates.
Jones admitted: “We could be sitting here on 50 points and still wanting to get revenge on Southampton.
“We know how hurtful it was to lose that game down at St Mary’s.
“It’s a great opportunity at home.
“You remember those games.
“A lot of the time when you look back at your career, you remember the bad days more than the good ones. I wasn’t there to take part in that one, but I’m sure it’s one the lads remember and want to rectify it.”
The Southampton hammering was one of three prominent collapses this season from Sunderland, who shipped four goals at home to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in two of the last three Stadium of Light outings.
Those 16 goals have accounted for almost a third of the 49 Sunderland have conceded this season.
And that could have ramifications on their bid to stay in the Premier League, with only basement boys Burnley boasting an inferior goal difference.
“Unfortunately, that is the case,” added Jones.
“Looking at the league, as everyone is at the moment, you see our goal difference and a large part of it is down to those three games.
“Too many goals went in which could have been prevented as a collective and that’s disappointing.
“If it wasn’t for those games, we could be up there with a great defensive record.
“And maybe it would have accounted for a few more points from those games as well.
“We’ve just got to make sure we are hard to beat, first and foremost, and that means everyone working hard and giving their utmost.
“Hopefully then we will have enough quality in the final third, making chances and taking them, to see us win the games we need.
“We have to look ahead to the next five games, be solid as a unit, defend from the front, and do all the basics right.
“Hopefully that will get us results.”