Costel Pantilimon is confident Sunderland will stay up this season – now they are playing like a “proper” team.
Monday night’s morale-boosting win at Crystal Palace resulted in a much-needed three points and also a rare clean sheet.
The club’s Romanian stopper believes it showed Sam Allardyce’s squad are up for the fight of staying in the top flight, provided they keep showing the same levels of “desire and commitment”.
“We played like a proper team, we defended well and showed good commitment,” Pantilimon said.
“That is important and we needed these three points.
“It is very good that we took them at Palace and now we need to continue that form.
“It is important to perform as a team, we showed that and everyone deserves the credit.
“After a win we need to keep it going and it is important we continue against Stoke.
“They are a very good team with good players.
“We expect it to be a hard one.
“We need to perform exactly like we did (on Monday) and be strong and compact and show the same quality.”
Sunderland’s stay of execution in the Premier League last season was built on a foundation of 13 clean sheets.
This season they have struggled to achieve those heights, with just two clean sheets from their opening 13 league matches, the latest coming in Monday’s win.
And Pantilimon says it is imperative they build on that dogged performance at the Stadium of Light.
“We have not had many clean sheets this season, the only other one was against Newcastle,” he added. “I hope to have more of them!
“Last year we had plenty of clean sheets and with that kind of commitment and desire we will stay up.
“I was happy with my own performance, especially when I don’t concede a goal.
“I am happy when I can help my team, of course, and I am very happy with the guys in front, they work hard.
“This is the most important and happy thing for me.”