Pienaar Plans Sunderland Shut-Out
South African says Blues must focus on defence.
Steven Pienaar has called on Everton to add defensive solidity to their multi-faceted attacking game in a bid to earn victory over Sunderland this weekend.
The Blues welcome Martin O’Neill’s Black Cats to Merseyside on Saturday having been held to four successive Premier League draws.
On top of that, David Moyes’ men have fallen behind in each of their last six outings in all competitions.
And while the plaudits continue to roll in for the Blues’ effervescent offensive approach, South African Pienaar believes an overdue clean sheet is the key to success.
Last season, the 30-year-old was among the scorers as Everton hit four without reply to register a fifth straight Premier League home win over the Wearsiders – a record he is keen to see built upon with another emphatic Goodison display.
“Against Sunderland, we've always had a good run at home so if we can maintain that it would be good for us,” said Pienaar in an exclusive interview with evertontv. “We can be confident because if you look at our last couple of games, the way we've been playing, we’ve created a lot of opportunities and we've scored a lot of goals. The only thing is we have to try not to concede, and if we get that right we might go on and win the game.
“They've got a great manager at the club and he always wants his teams to work hard, so it’s not going to be easy. But we just have to keep playing our game and, hopefully, if we don't concede any goals, well, we can definitely win the game.”
Saturday’s fixture will see the majority of Everton’s squad reunited with former teammate Louis Saha.
The 34-year-old Frenchman signed on with the Black Cats in August following a short-lived spell at Tottenham Hotspur.
And while Pienaar was elated his friend’s summer-long hunt for a club resulted in a stay in England, it won’t stop him hoping to see the striker among the substitutes come Saturday afternoon.
“I'm definitely pleased he stayed in the Premier League,” said Pienaar of a player who notched 35 goals in 115 appearances for the Blues. “Louis is a great player and a great person as well off the field, so it's a plus for the Premier League that he's still here.
“But Louis is unpredictable when he plays so you always have to watch him. I hope the manager [O’Neill] doesn't put him in so it will be a plus point for us.”
Pienaar also paid tribute to current teammate Leon Osman after the Billinge-born midfielder was included in an England squad for the first time on Thursday.
Osman has been in fine fettle so far this campaign and Pienaar believes it is only right the 31-year-old has been given a chance to prove his worth on the international stage.
“It's been a long time coming,” he said. “Ossie's been really playing well for a long time, I think he was just unfortunate [England] have got so many quality midfielders - the likes of [Frank] Lampard, [Steven] Gerrard and Gareth Barry.
“He deserves his call-up. He's been fantastic this season.”
Tickets for Everton's game against Sunderland on Saturday are now on general sale. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878*. Alternatively visit the Park End Box Office, Ticket Quarter or Everton Two.