SUNDERLAND dropped back into the Premier League’s bottom three yesterday, but Adam Johnson insists the club is not in crisis after suffering back-to-back defeats which have significantly fractured confidence on Wearside.

After the horror show at St Mary’s a week earlier, the Black Cats turned in a much more resilient display against Arsenal only to be let down by two horrible howlers involving Wes Brown, Will Buckley and Vito Mannone.

Alexis Sanchez capitalised on the errors – the first on half an hour and the in stoppage-time – to secure victory for the Gunners, leaving Gus Poyet wondering how and when his side will cut out the mistakes.

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But Johnson, who has struggled to get going this season, believes there are reasons for optimism and there's no need for any over-reaction in losing to Arsenal.

“Maybe when we know we have to do it, we do it - I don't think it's a crisis point,” said Johnson. “Arsenal are a very good team and we gifted them two goals, it was as simple as that really. We've got to go to Crystal Palace next week and try to get a win.

“We're quite confident as a team it's just the mistakes that are bringing our confidence down. It's so difficult when you're conceding goals like that to lift yourself and carry on. I thought we did that. Our shape was good and we defended well. It comes down to if you give goals away against top teams you're going to get punished.

“Palace is against one of the teams around us. I know we want to try to win against every team but anything you get against Arsenal is a bonus.

“I wouldn't say you don't expect to get anything but if we hadn't given two goals away we would have got something. If we can beat teams like Palace and Stoke – which we did – we'll be fine. Then you just try to pick up points against the big teams.”

With nine matches gone, Sunderland are already in a bottom three battle after Newcastle’s impressive 2-1 win at Tottenham yesterday forced Poyet’s team beneath the relegation line.

By the time Sunderland travel to fellow strugglers Palace next Monday, three points could be required to lift them out of the drop zone.

And the manner in which his players are failing to find the net is a growing concern.

A failure to bring in the extra striker during the summer has left the manager with three favoured strikers all struggling for confidence – and Steven Fletcher will be assessed today to determine the severity of a foot problem.

Johnson said: “It's very early still. There's probably half the Premier League in a relegation battle at this minute in time, probably more. The likes of Southampton are very high at the moment, but three defeats in a row and you're in there anyway. We need to start picking up points and hopefully be pushing away from that.”

If Sunderland are going to turn things around, however, then the errors have to be eradicated and there will be pressure on Poyet to replace Mannone with Costel Pantilimon for the next game.

Johnson said: “We're all gutted as a team, them especially. When you make a mistake like that it affects you after the game but Wes Brown has been around for years now and Vito was our player of the year last season. It will obviously be hurting them because it's cost us the game but we need to get over these things and not give gifts away in other games.

“You've just got to quickly put it behind you. I think you've got to forget about it. You can't change it, can you? So let it go. You've just got to move on and try to do better.”

Fletcher was forced off early in the second half against Arsenal. Poyet was concerned about the foot problem immediately after the game and will find out the results of a scan in next 48 hours.