Seb Larsson says Sunderland’s Capital One Cup run will be a boost rather than a burden to their survival hopes – and says the extra-games argument has been used as a “bad excuse” by relegated teams.
Larsson was a member of the Birmingham side which lifted the League Cup in 2011, but suffered the ignominy of relegation just 12 games later after they failed to arrest a spring slide.
FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic also dropped into the Championship a few weeks after their incredible Wembley triumph over Manchester City this year.
The euphoria of Sunderland’s fantastic extra-time defeat of Chelsea has to be tempered by the possibility they could suffer a similar fate given their woeful league position.
The Black Cats now face a draining programme of a potential 11 games in 38 days as they look to salvage their Premier League status, starting with a pivotal meeting with Norwich at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
However, Larsson says any fatigue will be mitigated by the confidence and feel-good factor beating Chelsea gives them in the run up to their Canaries clash.
He said: “Listen, it can never be a bad thing to win a Cup or get as far as you can.
“That is just a bad excuse for getting relegated. When people say ‘you’ll have extra games’ and all that I don’t believe it.
“It’s easy to play football games if you’re winning them and much tougher if you’re losing them. This will give us all a big lift and the supporters too.”
Boss Gus Poyet set out his intentions from the start on Tuesday by picking the strongest line-up that was available to him, resisting the temptation to rest key figures like Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole despite the strain of playing two games in the space of three days.
The intention, as he had explained on Monday, was to try and imbue
the team with a winning mentality – and Larsson hopes the victory has gone some way towards turning round a miserable campaign.
He added “Hopefully it can do that.
“Winning games is never a bad thing.
“The manager spoke to us about winning football games and said we hadn’t won enough recently and that is one in the bank.
“When you beat a team like Chelsea there is no way it’s ever going to be a negative.
“It’s nice to progress and it’s a a great thing to be able to say you’re in a Cup semi-final.
“I know this club has been longing for a Cup run as long as I’ve been here.
“We’ve got to the semi-finals now so let’s see who we get, concentrate on the league in the meantime and when the game comes around I’m sure they will be two great games.”
Larsson feels the team has been performing pretty well in the league and was unlucky not to collect a pivotal three points at Upton Park on Saturday.
They have the opportunity to make up ground on the chasing pack against Norwich on Saturday on a day when Cup form will be irrelevant.
He said: “The Premier League is our bread and butter though and we know we have to sort that situation out as soon as we can.
“It won’t count for much if we can’t do that.
“We have to forget about this win quickly because that’s a very big game for us.
“We thought we put in a very good performance against West Ham but we wanted or the points.
“Then beating Chelsea will give us a big lift so hopefully it will be a very confident team that walks out on Saturday.”