Michael Dawson knows we have to be ready for a Sunderland side with a clear incentive at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
We travel to Wearside sitting in fifth place in the Premier League, level on 44 points with Chelsea in fourth.
Meanwhile, Sunderland are seventh after an impressive campaign so far, a point behind Liverpool in sixth but seven points behind us.
“They’ll look at the table and think ‘10 points or four points (behind us)’ and that’s a big difference,” said Michael, who picked up his third England cap in Wednesday night’s friendly against Denmark.
“That gives them a real incentive, but that incentive is there for us as well. We need to keep picking up points to stay on the tails of the top four.”
Sunderland took points off us in a 1-1 draw at the Lane in November and are a force at home, losing just twice in 13 league matches this term.
“It’s always a difficult place to go and they will be gutted to have lost to Stoke last weekend after leading twice,” added Michael. “I’m sure the atmosphere will be great as always and we’ll be prepared for another tough away game.”