Sam Allardyce believes Norwich City will happily take a draw from tomorrow’s basement showdown – even if the Canaries have a chance to virtually secure their Premier League status.
Sunderland’s fate in the relegation battle will become clearer this weekend, with a victory at Carrow Road leaving the Black Cats just a point behind Norwich with a game in hand, while defeat would create a potentially unassailable seven-point gap.
Even a draw may be insufficient for Sunderland, with Allardyce’s men failing to take a chunk out of the four-point buffer with Alex Neil’s fourth-bottom side.
Allardyce believes that puts far more heat on his Sunderland side tomorrow, with Norwich aware that a draw would preserve their healthy advantage over the drop zone.
“The pressure is on us,” he said.
“Norwich wouldn’t be too disappointed in a draw, because one more game ticks by.
“They’ll still be four points ahead of us with five games left, instead of six.
“But we both want to win.
“Their results have been better than ours recently with one draw, two wins and one defeat.
“We’ve had just too many draws.
“It won’t matter how we play as long as we win.
“If we have to win ugly, let’s win ugly.
“Within the rules of the game, let’s do whatever we have to do to win.”
Backed by a boisterous crowd, Norwich are likely to make the early running and Allardyce won’t be too upset if the Canaries continue to push forward in search of a vital victory, if Sunderland can take advantage on the counter-attack.
“The focus on defending, when somebody is throwing everything at you, is 100% so you can keep them out,” he added.
“It’s a bit like Athletico Madrid and Barcelona the other night (the Champions League quarter-final).
“Norwich can have 77% possession if they want, as long as I get a clean sheet.
“Because, even though I have been concerned that we haven’t scored a goal in the last two games, if we keep a clean sheet I am always convinced we have enough threat to get a goal.
“If they throw the kitchen sink at us, we can absorb the pressure and then when we get the opportunity, we can expose them if they over-extend themselves.”