O'Neill: Villa stars staying grounded
Villa won at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years on Saturday thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor's first-half goal and climbed into third spot in the Premier League for 24 hours before being overtaken by Arsenal. It completed a memorable treble following wins at Anfield and at home to Chelsea this season, but O'Neill thinks his squad have their feet firmly on the ground ahead of Tuesday's meeting with Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light. O'Neill said: "I think it's important to take everything in context. It was a fine win against United and I'm delighted we won and, by winning the game at Old Trafford, I am sure it will give players a bit more confidence. "But I'm sure they are also totally aware the Sunderland game will be just as difficult. Just because we won at Old Trafford doesn't mean we can win anywhere. "Anyone can win somewhere, sometime given a set of circumstances. "I don't want to play it down. It was a great win for us, the first time at United for 26 years, but I don't think the players will get too carried away with it. I think you saw that." Villa hit a sticky patch after defeating Chelsea, drawing with Wolves and Everton and losing at West Ham, and will be keen to make sure they capitalise on the win over Sir Alex Ferguson's side. O'Neill said: "The Premier League for us is so difficult. I can't prevent the way people will speculate on things. You look at certain results and draw some conclusions which I know are a million miles from the real aspect of it all. "These players won against Chelsea and then had to play a local derby against Wolves, which was always going to be hard for us. "We didn't play well against Wolves but I don't think because we beat Chelsea we automatically thought the next game would be straightforward, and I don't think the top teams think like that. "That is why they have a consistency of results and that is what we are striving to achieve." O'Neill knows that expectations are increasing because of Villa's second successive push to secure a top-four spot but knows the picture can quickly alter. He said: "To beat Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United is really fine and pretty exceptional but, as a consequence, you raise expectations around the place. "I've said before I am not too concerned about that. The converse is absolutely true. You lose a couple of games and people think you're sliding down the table again. Things have to be in perspective." O'Neill is aware Sunderland will provide a tough test at the Stadium of Light and Villa needed penalties to win the Carling Cup tie between the clubs at the same venue last month. He said: "We won on penalties in the Carling Cup and last season we did very well to win the league game. We came from behind to win. "But it will be difficult, no question about that and Sunderland are strong. "They've had one or two hiccups away from home but overall they are very, very strong at home and obviously I'm pretty concerned about the game. There is just no respite. "Confidence is pretty good and I think naturally if you go to places like Old Trafford and Anfield and win, certainly that can only be a major confidence boost. "But again that can be eroded pretty quickly."