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Always tough on Wearside - Gareth

Gareth Bale expects nothing less than our annual tough encounter at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

We’ve won just once on Wearside since the Black Cats’ return to the Premier League in 2005-06, although three of those six matches have been hard-fought draws.

Martin O’Neill’s men have struggled for consistent form so far this season but their fine win over champions Manchester City on Boxing Day marked their third win in four and moved them up to 15th in the Premier League.

We moved back into fourth with a 4-0 win at Villa and now only leaders Manchester United have won more away games (seven to our five) and scored more goals on their travels (22 to our 20).

Gareth led the way with a fantastic hat-trick at Villa – his first in the Premier League – but quickly turned his attention to Sunderland.

“Sunderland are at the wrong end of the table at the moment, fighting for their lives and they will make it a difficult game up there, just like they do every year,” said the flying winger.

“We’ll recover from Villa and then it’s up to Sunderland, hopefully we can put a good performance just like we did at Villa Park.

"It will be tough but we'll go there looking for all three points."