Martin Smith

Smith Says...

by Martin Smith

'Son of Pele' previews Chelsea clash in exclusive column.

We go into this weekend’s match against Chelsea off the back of a real ‘game of two halves’ at Norwich.

We let Norwich play as they wanted for the first 20 minutes and really got their confidence up.

They probably deserved to be well ahead at half time but whatever was said in the dressing room did the trick.

We were excellent in the second half and if we’d have got the score back to 2-2 we probably would have gone on to win.

As it was we couldn’t nick the goal we needed, but it’s no good starting games at 2-0 down. It’s important we start well this weekend.

We’ve had spells in games where we can see real ability and the second half at Norwich shows what we’re capable of. That’s the thing the players have to focus on, and a good result against Chelsea could really get things going.

I think it’s a good game for Sunderland. The fans will be up for it and there’ll be a good atmosphere.

If you give teams respect and stand off them in this league you will get punished, no matter who you’re playing.

It’s important we work hard and show plenty of endeavour.

Chelsea haven’t been playing too well in the league but they had a good result in midweek and their front four can tear apart any team in the league. It’s vitally important we get in amongst them.

Hopefully we can catch Chelsea on a day where things aren’t quite clicking for them.

It’s going to be a busy few days with the Reading game coming up next Tuesday and then the FA Youth Cup game against Manchester City the day after.

The Youth Cup still has a real prestige about it. When I was an apprentice it was always a competition I looked forward to.

I remember drawing Manchester United in the first round one year and being 3-0 down after seven minutes!

Manchester City have a lot of good young players and will have spent money on a few of them.

It’s a good test for our youngsters and it should be a good night. Hopefully they will do well.

These kind of games stay with you as a young footballer and I still remember my experiences in the Youth Cup even now.

I’ve watched the under-18s a lot this season and they are an exciting side who play good football and have some good players.

Everyone will be willing them to do well.