Zenden seeks winning send-off

BY foxsports • May 21, 2011

The Black Cats head for relegated West Ham on Sunday still in with a chance of securing the top-10 Premier League finish on which they set their sights in August last year, but having crumpled alarmingly in the face of an ongoing injury crisis. Zenden, who will play his final game for the club - if selected - at Upton Park after rejecting the chance to remain on Wearside, is acutely aware of what might have been, but insists they must carry on the fight until the final ball is kicked. The 34-year-old Dutchman said: "It's the last game of the season and it's going to be an important one. "We are definitely going to finish [at least] 14th, but there is some ground to be made up if certain results go our way as well. "We just have to make sure we win on Sunday. "With West Ham already being relegated, who knows how they are going to come out? Is it going to be positive, negative? How is the crowd going to react to them? Are they still going to put out a full squad? "You never know what is going to happen in the last game of the season because probably for them, there's not much at stake. "They want to give a farewell with a good feeling, but for us, there are still a few points to put on the board which can make a massive difference again for the team. "At the beginning of the season, the main goal was to finish in the top 10, and it comes down to the last game, just like last year, where it is still possible. "But we should have put that away a bit earlier in the season." Sunderland seemed certainties to end the campaign in the top half of the table when a 2-1 win at Blackpool on January 22 left them in sixth place with 37 points. Significantly, the win at Bloomfield Road came four days after leading scorer Darren Bent's £24million defection to Aston Villa had rocked the club, and the decisions both to let him go and not replace him in the short-term have prompted much soul-searching on Wearside since. Last weekend's 3-1 home defeat by Wolves was the Black Cats' 10th in 13 games since the trip to Blackpool, and four months on, they sit in 14th place having only eased themselves clear of the fight for top-flight survival with victories over Wigan and Bolton in the nick of time. Steve Bruce's men have collected just seven of the last 39 points they have contested - by comparison, the Hammers have managed 12, second-bottom Wigan 17 and Ian Holloway's men, who are currently in 18th place, 12. Injuries have undoubtedly taken their toll, and the potential returns of Asamoah Gyan - the Ghana international's absence for the last three games has left his manager without a single fit senior striker - and Anton Ferdinand from hamstring problems would represent a boost. However, planning is already underway for next season with three frontmen at the top of Bruce's summer shopping list. But Zenden does not subscribe to the theory that it will be a relief to hear the final whistle after a difficult few months. He said: ""It's just another game that comes along and we want to finish on a high if possible. "Of course, we have had some injuries and that hasn't made it easy on us. "But you have to take certain things on the chin and it's definitely not a relief that the season is over."


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