Sam Allardyce admits Saturday’s visit of in-form Watford is a “six-pointer” after Sunderland’s return to the relegation zone.
Shock victories for fellow strugglers Newcastle and Bournemouth saw Sunderland fall to second bottom again last weekend, amidst a close-knit pack of sides lying above basement boys Aston Villa.
We’ve got to keep those standards up because we’ve got a massive six pointer next week against WatfordSam Allardyce
Saturday’s opponents Watford have won four of their last six games to move into the top half, including victories over relegation candidates Villa and Norwich in the last 10 days.
But with ominous clashes against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool to follow for Sunderland, this may be the Black Cats’ best opportunity to register another win before the New Year.
And despite being heartened by the performance in last weekend’s defeat at Arsenal, Allardyce knows that points are the only priority for Sunderland in their current plight.
“We’re asking the players to improve and I think they’re doing that,” said Allardyce.
“Each week, we’re performing better and better.
“It didn’t get a result at Arsenal, although we deserved to get one.
“Our frailties in front of goal have not allowed us to get one.
“But we’ve got to keep those standards up because we’ve got a massive six-pointer next weekend against Watford.”
Allardyce has already stated that he believes the meetings against those expected to be in or around Sunderland in the bottom half of the table will decide the Black Cats’ fate.
Certainly, after back-to-back wins over Stoke and Crystal Palace, there was little pressure on Sunderland heading to the Emirates.
But the quality of the performance left Allardyce frustrated at coming away empty-handed, particularly on a weekend when Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all suffered surprise defeats.
“We really should have got something out of the game at Arsenal,” he added.
“It’s a great shame when you get a performance at this level against a team like that.
“I can’t knock the performance, but it’s a sad way to lose a game when you’ve done so much to gain another point at least.”