Jordan Pickford urges Sunderland to stick to game plan against Man Utd

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Jordan Pickford of Sunderland celebrates his sides goal  during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Crysta
Image: Jordan Pickford wants teammates to be confident against an impressive Manchester United team

Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is hoping his team can stifle a resurgent Manchester United in the Premier League game on Boxing Day and help him keep back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.

Sunderland lifted themselves off the bottom of the table and into 18th place by beating Watford 1-0 at home on Saturday and Pickford said they would have to play without fear at United to have any hope of climbing out of the relegation zone.

United, who are unbeaten in their last eight league games, are sixth in the table and have not lost at home since their 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on September 10.

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"We are going up against some top, top players," Pickford said. "We have got to go there and show we don't fear them.

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"We have to stick to our game plan, keep a clean sheet and then, anything can happen. We'll have a good week of training, we'll go there with a game plan and hopefully that works out for us on the day."

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Sunderland's clean sheet against Watford was their second in the league this season and with goals hard to come by at the other end, Pickford said the defence needed to tighten up further.

Sunderland have scored 15 goals in 17 league games, with only basement side Hull City scoring fewer.

"It's nice to get a clean sheet because I'm not getting them as much as I would like to," Pickford added.

Sunderland 1-0 Watford

"I will take each clean sheet as it comes because from a goalkeeper's point of view there is definitely nothing better than that."

After United, Sunderland visit Burnley on December 31 before hosting second-placed Liverpool on January 2.  

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