ADAM JOHNSON thinks Sunderland can head in to this weekend’s crucial relegation encounter at the Stadium of Light boosted to know Cardiff City will have to go on the attack.
The Black Cats now have Premier League survival in their sights again after stunning the top-fight by claiming four points from the last two outings against Manchester City and Chelsea.
Even though Sunderland still occupy bottom spot in the top-flight standings, Gustavo Poyet’s players know safety is in their own hands because of the teams they have left to play - and they still have a game in hand.
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One of the biggest concerns Sunderland have is their record at home is poor, but Johnson thinks that could be put right as early as Sunday because of the situation facing the Bluebirds.
It is just as important for Cardiff, sitting in the third and final relegation place a point above Sunderland, to win this weekend to increase their hopes of survival.
Johnson said: “You can feel that sort of buzz around after what we did against City and Chelsea. I think because we were written off we feel like we've proved a few people wrong.
“Getting a win at Chelsea when no-one wins there under Jose Mourinho has given us a massive, massive lift.
“But it has been at home where our problems have been. This is going to be a totally different game. It's going to be a battle.
“I don't think Cardiff can come and just get a point against us like others have done at the Stadium of Light, so it could suit us.
“Norwich and Crystal Palace have come for a point and as long as we didn't score I don't think they particularly wanted to score either. I don't think Cardiff can come and play for a point.”
Sunderland have picked up just a single point from their last four home matches; such form had everyone on Wearside fearing the drop until the impressive displays at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge.
The last two displays typified Sunderland this season, which is why the threat of Championship football has never gone away despite improvements under Poyet.
Johnson said: “We’ve been better on the road in general. The big teams aren't as ratty, there's big pitches, they don't press as much and maybe because we've got really good players in the bigger games everyone rises to them more. We just can't seem to get it going at home at the moment, really.
“That Chelsea game convinced me anything can happen in football. But we're miles away from that yet. There were only seconds remaining then, those sort of last second goals happen every weekend but to win a game just shows it's never over until it's over.
“This is in our own hands now but after what we did this week it's nice to have it in our own hands again.
“We probably couldn't have asked for more than these remaining fixtures. We've got teams in and around us and if I was looking at other teams' fixtures in and around us I wouldn't feel quite so comfortable.”
Despite sitting a point from safety at the bottom of the Premier League, there have been plenty reasons to be positive since Poyet succeeded Paolo Di Canio in October.
If the league started at that stage then Sunderland would actually be sitting 12th after taking 28 points from 27 matches under the Uruguayan. Sunderland had only earned a point before that.
If Sunderland can stay up after the remaining dates with Cardiff, Manchester United, West Brom and Swansea, Johnson realises lessons need to be learned.
He said: “At times we've been a top seven team but at other times we've been absolutely awful. I think we really need to just add that consistency and take that form from our away games into this one and to try to play the same way that we've been playing - with confidence and no fear.
“If we stay up now you never know what might happen under the gaffer with his vision and how he wants to play. If we can just get over the line here next season will be a totally different season.
“To be fair, I said that last season, but it feels a little bit different this year. I think it's definitely a lot better. Going into it next season should be better than it is now.”
Chelsea midfielder Ramires has accepted a charge of violent conduct for elbowing Seb Larsson during Sunderland’s win last Saturday night. He faces a four match ban.