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'Next few games are crucial' - Poyet

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet says his side's pre-Christmas run-in will prove crucial to plotting the Black Cats' destiny in the Premier League this season.

Monday night's hard-fought win at Crystal Palace moved Poyet's men two points clear of the relegation zone and victory over Everton tomorrow could conceivably launch them into the top 10.

With back-to-back Stadium of Light clashes against Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon, Poyet believes the way his side react to their win at Selhurst Park could prove crucial.

Poyet said: "I think it will depend on the next three or four games. It can set up a different situation where we are really pushing for something this year, or do you want to suffer all the time at the bottom?

"It's very tight - there's a very small margin for error and you need to make sure you are not on the wrong side of those decisions. That's what we've been working on - how to make sure we are not making so many mistakes."

Poyet has predictably welcomed all favourable comparisons with his side's form at the same stage last season but is determined the win in south London should not be taken as proof that the bad times are over. He added: "It's obviously been a totally different week, but the most important thing is to control emotions.

"You're not that bad if you lose and you're not that good if you win one game. It's about maintaining balance and knowing what we need to do every week."