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Sunday 20 August 2017

Sebastian Larsson: 'Black Cats to battle on after Villa horror show'

Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Fabian Delph
Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Fabian Delph

Sebastian Larsson admits Sunderland will have a hold a grisly summer inquest to get to the root of the problems which have blighted them during a season which is threatening to end in disaster.

Saturday's 4-0 home defeat by improving Aston Villa, which Larsson later described as "embarrassing", coupled with Burnley's shock 1-0 victory over title-chasing Manchester City, left the Black Cats sitting just a point clear of the Premier League relegation zone and in severe danger of being sucked into another unseemly scrap for survival.

It was the nature as much as the fact of their capitulation which left head coach Gus Poyet under intense pressure, and while there appears to be no immediate appetite to dispense with his services, chairman Ellis Short has shown in the past he is prepared to make bold decisions when he feels they are necessary.

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However, while he is at a loss to explain exactly why Sunderland find themselves in trouble once again, Larsson knows questions need to be answered - but not before the club's top-flight status is secured for another season.

The 29-year-old Sweden international said: "We are not going to lie down and give up. We are going to battle on.

"Too many times this season, we have had chances to pull away and we haven't done it, and we know that's our problem. Why? I don't know - if I knew the answer, we would have rectified it.

"But we will keep battling away and making sure we get the points we need to stay up, and then we need to start afresh and really have a think about things in the summer."

With nine games remaining, the Black Cats have slipped to 17th place in the table on 26 points, a point better off than they were at the same stage last season. From there they pulled off a remarkable escape by collecting 13 of the last 27 on offer courtesy in part of unlikely victories at Chelsea and Manchester United.

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