Sunderland’s bench will have a hot-line to Villa Park tomorrow, to keep up to speed with the fortunes of relegation rivals Newcastle United.
All three of the sides battling to avoid joining basement boys Aston Villa in the Championship are in action tomorrow, with second bottom Norwich City beginning proceedings with a lunchtime kick-off against Manchester United.
Sunderland and Newcastle are both in action from 3pm, and Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce will receive score updates from the Magpies’ clash at Villa.
Allardyce is targeting a win against Chelsea, but if Sunderland are level heading into the latter stages against last season’s champions, then Newcastle’s fortunes will play a part in his decision-making.
“Yes, I want to know what’s happening. Definitely,” said Allardyce.
“In all honesty, I’ve never had to worry about this too much in my career in the Premier League.
“But I did at Blackburn and I did at Bolton, in the second year there.
“This is the third time round with Sunderland.
“I haven’t been in this position very often in the last 12-14 years, but I have experienced it so keeping a link on what’s happening elsewhere may have an influence on my decision-making process going into the final throws of the game.
“You’ve got to know whether you’ve got to go for the game or protect what you’ve got.
“Every manager’s substitutions are very important. They can have a detrimental as well as a positive effect and that’s where you earn your money on a Saturday.
“They have to have a positive effect more often than a negative, otherwise you lose your job.
“It’s that simple.
“Your decision-making process on a match-day is critical to the team’s performances and results.”
With Newcastle facing already-relegated Villa and then beaten title chasers Spurs, many Sunderland fans fear that Rafa Benitez’s side could take maximum points from their final two games – leaving the Black Cats requiring seven points from their run-in due to their superior goal difference.
But Allardyce is not convinced; labelling the situation as “very, very unpredictable” for each of the three clubs involved in the relegation scrap due to the nerves and stakes riding on each game.
What Allardyce does expect tomorrow, is for Chelsea to demonstrate their quality during spells of dominance - much as Arsenal did in Sunderland’s last Stadium of Light outing.
However, Sunderland prevented the Gunners from finding the net before moving into the ascendancy themselves and Allardyce is looking for a similar outcome, albeit this time with a victory.
“We turned the game in our favour by shutting down Arsenal’s talented players and taking the ball off them,” he added.
“That’s what we’ve got to try to emulate again against Chelsea.
“There is going to be a spell where Chelsea will dominate the ball, but we’ve got to say ‘okay, that’s happening, but they’re not going to score’.
“And then that will eventually change and we’ll have the opportunity to get back in the game.
“If we get back in the game, then we have to try to be the team that scores.
“Scoring the first goal is going to be so, so important.
“If everything goes according to plan, we’d want to score the first goal... in the 89.9th minute!”