December 22, 2016 / 10:01 AM / in 7 months

Black Cat Pickford targets Old Trafford clean sheet

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Britain Football Soccer - Sunderland v Watford - Premier League - Stadium of Light - 17/12/16 Sunderland's Jordan Pickford celebrates after the game Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith Livepic

(Reuters) - Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is hoping his team can stifle a resurgent Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday and help him keep back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.

Sunderland lifted themselves off the bottom of the table and into 18th place by beating Watford 1-0 at home on Saturday and Pickford said they would have to play without fear at United to have any hope of climbing out of the relegation zone.

United, who are unbeaten in their last eight league games, are sixth in the table, and have not lost at home since their 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on Sept. 10.

"We are going up against some top, top players," Pickford told the club website. (www.safc.com).

"We have got to go there and show we don't fear them.

"We have to stick to our game plan, keep a clean sheet and then... anything can happen. We'll have a good week of training, we'll go there with a game plan and hopefully that works out for us on the day."

Sunderland's clean sheet against Watford was their second in the league this season and with goals hard to come by at the other end, Pickford said the defence needed to tighten up further.

Sunderland have scored 15 goals in 17 league games, with only basement side Hull City scoring fewer.

"It's nice to get a clean sheet because I'm not getting them as much as I would like to," Pickford added.

"I will take each clean sheet as it comes because from a goalkeeper's point of view there is definitely nothing better than that."

After United, Sunderland visit Burnley on Dec. 31 before hosting second-placed Liverpool on Jan. 2.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru

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