Belfast Telegraph

Dyche warning for Black Cats

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has warned Sunderland fans not to expect an easy ride at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Both sides are awaiting their first victories of the season, meaning there is plenty riding on their meeting this weekend.

For Dyche's men a season of struggle was always anticipated, but the Black Cats harbour higher hopes than a repeat of the relegation battle of last term.

Away fans will see their trip to Lancashire as a big chance to get up and running, but Dyche has other ideas.

"Lots of Sunderland supporters will expect their team to beat us, and that does probably add a bit of weight to the game from their point of view," he said.

"But I think that does us down a bit. Our record speaks for itself at Turf Moor, where we're pretty handy.

"I certainly don't think we're a team where you can just walk into Turf Moor and think it will all work out happily for you.

"You have to earn that right, certainly here, and I don't think Gus Poyet is naive enough to think otherwise.

"Some of their fans might think 'we've got to beat Burnley, simple as that' but I don't think it's that easy."

Dyche sees the fixture as a close call, one of several he is expecting against teams who exist outside the rarefied air of the Champions League positions.

"There's a reality to this division that suggests there's five or six - maybe seven or eight at most - who are right up there pushing, and outside of that there are ups and downs, moments of chaos," he said.

"We're in that and we know it.

"I don't think Sunderland are market leaders either, like we're not, because there's only a small handful of teams who are up there at the very top. "

Gus Poyet has warned Sunderland they cannot afford to allow opportunities to pass them by as they attempt to kick-start their season in earnest.

The Black Cats have lost just one of their four Barclays Premier League games to date - drawing the other three - and showed commendable resilience to come back to 2-2 during last Saturday's clash with an at times rampant Tottenham.

However, the only game in which they have succumbed came at promoted QPR, where they dominated for long periods but crucially, did not make the pressure tell before going down to Charlie Austin's lone strike.

That reverse will be firmly in head coach Poyet's mind as he takes his side to last season's Sky Bet Championship runners-up on Saturday.

He said: "That was a game in which I felt we were better. We were happy on the pitch, in control and we were able to throw offensive players forward without worrying too much about the defensive side or the shape.

"But that's football in the Barclays Premier League. You don't know what is going to happen, even if you are on top, you are not going to win, or the opposite way around.

"Now, that's what I will ask the team: if for any reason we are lucky enough, or good enough, to be on top of the game on Saturday, that's when we need to make the difference, that's when we need to go and get something important from the game and not just wait for a reaction or a comeback or character.

"Let's see, let's see if we can start the game well. We know what is going to happen in the first few minutes, we know how Burnley are going to play. I don't think there are going to be any surprises.

"It's about how we cope and how we can dictate our game as well."

Sunderland's recent record against the so-called lesser lights of the division has been depressingly poor and those fans who make the trip to Turf Moor could be forgiven for doing so with a sense of foreboding.

Poyet is well aware of that, but is confident his new-look team is moving in the right direction, and that he has options, something he felt he did not have on his arrival at the club in October last year.

He said: "It's a different team (Burnley), it's a different way of playing. Yes, they are going to turn us, they are going to try to go that way, they are going to try to join in, they are going to try to get the ball, put it wide and put in as many crosses as they can early doors to bring the place up.

"We need the ball. We need the ball to not let them do that and be ready. I think it's going to be an interesting game in terms of how the two teams are going to play. "

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