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John O'Shea: Sunderland record against Manchester City meaningless

Updated: Saturday, 06 Oct 2012 13:42 | Comments

John O'Shea: 'It's a tough game for us, we are under no illusions'
John O'Shea: 'It's a tough game for us, we are under no illusions'

John O'Shea has warned his Sunderland team-mates last season's heroics against Manchester City will count for nothing this time around.

The Black Cats beat City 1-0 at the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day when substitute Ji Dong-won struck at the death after Martin O'Neill's patched-up side had survived something of a mauling.

But they almost repeated the feat at the Etihad Stadium in March when they led 3-1 with just five minutes remaining, only for the home side to snatch a draw with late strikes from Mario Balotelli and Aleksandar Kolarov.

Sunderland were the only side to deny Roberto Mancini's men Premier League victory on their own pitch, although O'Shea, who was missing through injury that day, knows recent history will have no bearing at all when they return tomorrow.

The former Man United defender said: "It's a totally different situation. City have added to their squad, we have added to our squad and made some changes along the way.

"Hopefully Adam Johnson will be able to give us a bit of inside info and we can see how Mr Mancini works."

"Hopefully Adam Johnson will be able to give us a bit of inside info and we can see how Mr Mancini works." - John O'Shea

"But look, it's a tough game for us, we are under no illusions. We will have to play very well.

"But it's one we can go into now with confidence because we got that win against Wigan, and have had all the good performances away from home.

"It's been put to bed, we have got that win on the board and we can move forward now."

Johnson, of course, swapped the blue half of Manchester for Wearside during the summer after realising that his opportunities under Mancini would be severely limited, and his arrival, along with that of £12million Wolves striker Steven Fletcher, was greeted with genuine excitement.

Injury has limited the England winger to date, but Fletcher's five goals in four league games have enhanced his reputation and prompted a rapprochement with Scotland boss Craig Levein, who this week recalled him to the international stage.

The 25-year-old is the only Sunderland man to have found the back of the net in the league this season, and while is not a matter for undue concern, O'Shea acknowledges that he will eventually need some assistance.

O'Shea in action against Steven Fletcher last season

He said: "We know it's only a matter of time. Fletch has been on fire, he has been amazing for us, and we have to give him a lot more support.

"It would be great if he does bang in 30 goals for us. But look, the pressure is on the rest of us, even defenders too, to pop up from set-pieces and score goals."

If O'Neill's summer overhaul was designed to give him more options, his choices pale into insignificance compared with those at the disposal of his opposite number.

Mancini's squad boasts an embarrassment of riches with England midfielder James Milner, a player the Irishman knows well from their time together at Aston Villa, an unused substitute in Wednesday night's 1-1 Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund.

O'Neill said: "They have got the squad to make some changes if they want.

"They had some players on the bench who they didn't even use who would be in a lot of teams playing in the Premier League.

"If you think, James Milner, who was a really important player for us at Aston Villa at the time, is not regularly in the side, that might tell you the strength of their squad.

"They are capable of making changes in the team and not really weakening it so much.

"But from our own viewpoint, I think we have the ability to go and cause them problems."

Sunderland will again be without suspended skipper Lee Cattermole, but defender Carlos Cuellar could return after missing the last three games with a hamstring problem.

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