Sunderland are enduring yet another tough season at the foot of the Premier League table – which has seen them make up one of the bottom three for 23 games out of the 25 so far.

But fortunately for the Black Cats, relegation scraps are something that is not new – with the Wearsiders enduring this hardship for the fifth consecutive campaign.

Somehow, each term the now-expert escape artists fathom new ways in which to remain a Premier League club, and do not crumble into the Championship.

There are only a select few remaining at the Stadium of Light who have witnessed the great escapes of previous seasons, and midfield veteran Sebastian Larsson is one of those.

The 31-year-old joined the north east side as a free transfer from Birmingham City in 2011 after the Blues relegation into the second-tier of English football.

Since then, the free-kick specialist has been a key foundation to Sunderland’s successful survival attempts, and the Sweden international believes that it should be those above the Black Cats who should be wary.

“I think there are six or seven teams involved in the relegation battle now”, Larsson told The Telegraph.

“I suspect, when those teams look at the table and see Sunderland’s name, they will be worried.

“They know what we have done before, they know we have got out of worse positions and they know what we are capable of doing when it comes to crunch time.

“We believe we will survive and I think that should scare the teams around us a little bit.”

As usual in February, the Wearsiders are beginning to pick up points with unlikely results – none more than a 0-4 away hammering of relegation rivals Crystal Palace last weekend which followed a well-earned point against Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur.

But this is not the first time the north east club have shocked those around them with crucial points against difficult opposition.

2014 saw Gus Poyet’s Sunderland claim seven points on the road at Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, something that epitomised the fighting spirit amongst the players.

“I can honestly say there has not been one season when I’ve thought ‘this is it,” said Larsson.

“I’ve never admitted defeat. For sure, I’ve looked at the table a few times and thought ‘this is going to be tricky’ but I can honestly say, I’ve never said ‘that’s it, we’re relegated.’

“Pride kicks in, when everybody else says you are going to be relegated, that’s the motivation, the need to prove people wrong. It’s very powerful. At least, it is at Sunderland.

“Of course, you don’t want to be known as relegation escape artists. It would be great if we could just chill out in mid-table one year, without the type of pressure we are under now, but it’s part of the game.

“We have constantly been pulled into these scraps, but we have always won them. I understand why people criticise us, I know why people think we deserve to go down, but what I’ll say to that is, we have always survived, others haven’t.

“We have something other clubs haven’t got. We turn negative situations into a positive.

“There is constant pressure, but you get used to living with it, playing under it.

“It is tough, but the feeling you get when you manage to get out of trouble, there is nothing quite like it.

“It’s euphoria, at least for a short while. When you have struggled for so many months, the joy you feel, the sensation you get when you defy the predictions, it’s great.”


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