Fabio Borini insists Sunderland will escape relegation from the Premier League if they continue to perform as they did against Chelsea.
The Black Cats remain rooted to the bottom of the table following Wednesday’s 4-3 defeat to the Blues at the Stadium of Light.
They now stand two points behind Crystal Palace and Fulham and five points adrift of West Ham, who occupy the last spot above the drop zone, but Borini says the Wearside outfit is a team transformed since Gus Poyet replaced Paolo Di Canio in mid-October – and undeserving of such a position.
Under the Italian, they claimed just a point from five league games at the beginning of the campaign. Under Poyet, they have taken seven from as many matches.
While they lost the last of those on Wednesday night, Borini believes the manner of his team’s performance against Jose Mourinho’s second-placed side – when they led through Josy Altidore, levelled via John O’Shea and almost pulled off an incredible fightback following Phil Bardsley’s late goal – can provide fresh impetus to the rest of Sunderland’s season. The key, he says, is to repeat such displays against their relegation rivals.
Borini said: “If we play the way we did against Chelsea we won’t get relegated.
“We do not deserve to be at the bottom. Playing like that against a top team was good but the key will be doing it against our rivals at the bottom.
“A fresh impetus? Yes, that will come. If we keep working hard every day in training and want to play the results will be the consequences.
“The positivity is around us and the environment we are in. We lost but performed well and scored three.”
In Sunderland’s favour, they have now played most of the Premier League’s top teams at home, with only Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening and, in April, Everton the remaining established big clubs still to visit Wearside.
By contrast, eight of their remaining 12 home games in the league are against clubs currently in the bottom half of the table, while a ninth welcomes Aston Villa, who stand 10th.
Borini believes the new sense of positivity emanating around the club can only stand it in good stead in the relegation dogfight.
He added: “We are a different team from when Poyet took over. We lost 4-0 that day to Swansea.
“He has started to pick the right team and building up a way of playing that is different and he is trying to pick the best players now.
“We don’t feel like the worst team in the Premier League, because we are not the worst.
“That is the mentality we have to keep. We have to keep a winning mentality and know what we are capable of.
“We are capable of good games and doing well.
“To score three against a team which won two European Cups (the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League last season) in two years is good, although we conceded four.
“The manager told us that Mourinho congratulated us on the performance.
“Mourinho said he was surprised by the performance.”
Meanwhile, Borini insists he is enjoying life on Wearside and has reaffirmed his year-long commitment to Sunderland.
The Liverpool striker is on a season-long loan at the Stadium of Light but has made only fleeting appearances – four starts and six from the substitutes bench.
However, the Italian said: “I am happy now I am playing again after six months.
“I am happy playing two games in two days. The loan spell is until the end of the season so I respect that.”