Vincent Kompany has warned against dropping cheap points if the Blues want to be genuine title contenders.
The Belgian international pointed to home draws with relegated Burnley and Hull last season plus a defeat away at Hull as contributory factors to finishing outside the top four.
After drawing at Spurs and defeating Liverpool – which have yielded three more points than last season’s corresponding fixtures – the multi-talented defender or midfielder is urging greater consistency.
“The top of the Premier League is probably going to be very tight at the end of the season and the odd unexpected point dropped or gained here or there will determine the finishing order,” he said.
“It is not all about how we fare against other teams with the same ambitions as ours.
It is just as much about making sure we don’t drop too many of those unexpected points
“Of course you can lose to anyone at any time in the Premier League because the competition is so fierce but you must minimise those to be successful.”
The Blues needed a late Adam Johnson wonder goal to rescue a point at the Stadium of Light last term and on Sunday will be looking to build on an unbeaten start to the season that has also seen progress made into the Europa League group stages.
“Everyone has to step up their level to stay in the starting eleven that is one of the keys,” Kompany continued.
“There are no games in this league that are not important or that do not have a high intensity. Last year the Champions League fourth place was decided by two points and we just missed out. You cannot at any time let your guard down. Sunderland will present a big challenge and we have to make sure we are ready for it.”