SUNDERLAND are making Steven Fletcher look better by asking him to do less in front of goal, according to Sebastian Larsson.
The Scotland striker was in terrific form at the weekend, scoring twice in a 3-2 win at Wigan Athletic to take his tally for the season into double figures. In the first few months of the campaign Fletcher was the only player finding the net for Sunderland but now others have started contributing, Larsson believes he has been more able to show his all-round qualities.
“We do look more of a threat going forward and I think it’s helped that a few of the lads have chipped in with goals, which gives Fletch a little bit more freedom up front,” argued Larsson, who belatedly scored his first goal of the season at home to West Ham United seven days earlier.
“Teams just don’t have to worry about him. It opens up a bit for him if teams know we can score from more positions.”
Although Craig Gardner was the only other Black Cats player to score at the DW Stadium – at least in Wigan’s net – and that was from a penalty, they have become much more potent since December.
The result has been five wins in seven Premier League games, scoring three times in each of the
last two. “They were two great finishes, two instinctive finishes,” Larsson said of Fletcher’s first-half goals.
“The first one, the header was saved and he got his foot on it. The same with the second one. It pops down and he just puts it in, a typical striker’s finish.
“It can only help us if he’s scoring.
“We’ve scored a few goals as a team recently which isn’t bad for us.
“That’s what we’ve got to do and when we do, it gives him a bit more space as well so teams just don’t worry about him.
“Steven’s overall play, the way he can hold the ball up and his link play are very important for us.”