Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood has moved to play down the importance of Saturday’s home game against Sunderland.
Both clubs are struggling in the early weeks of the season having narrowly avoided relegation last time around.
Many are billing the Villa Park encounter as a defining early-season moment but Sherwood says it is foolish to place too much stock in a fast start.
He referenced Villa’s quick opening last season under Paul Lambert where they secured three wins and a draw from their first four games.
“It’s an important game but I’m not sure it’s a landmark,” he said. “The team got 10 points from four games last season and ended up struggling.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and how you perform in the middle would help.”
Sherwood says that pressure is constant in the Premier League but he feels his team will enjoy the way Sunderland set up at Villa Park.
“Everyone has their own pressure. The pressure is to win football matches at whatever level,” he added.
“We want to take the game to Sunderland. They sit deep and look to bring us on, and we’ll certainly be coming on to them.”
On a cautionary note however, the former Spurs manager revealed his squad has been hit by illness as they prepare for the weekend, although he is hopeful of having a full compliment for the Sunderland game.
“We have a couple of players, I don’t want to tell you who they are, but they’re not here today because they are ill,” said Sherwood. “I’d rather they weren’t well now, rather than tomorrow.”