Sunderland set a target of nine points from ‘hugely difficult’ next eight games

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce.

Sam Allardyce says Sunderland need to take at least nine points from the next eight games, despite five encounters against last year’s top six.

Ever since his days in charge at Bolton, Allardyce has divided the season into eight-game chunks, with players given a points target for each section.

It’s made the next group of eight games - with the fixtures in it - so much more difficult.

Sam Allardyce

Sunderland were on course to reach Allardyce’s goal of double figures from his opening eight matches at the helm, yet fell short when they suffered defeat against Watford last weekend.

Allardyce admits that loss has made a “mega” difference to Sunderland’s survival challenge and says the Black Cats now need to play catch-up over the next eight games, with a minimum return of nine points.

However, Sunderland face an ominous run of fixtures – starting with today’s visit of Chelsea – with Manchester City (twice), Liverpool and Spurs all included in the upcoming eight Premier League outings.

Allardyce said: “We’ve got to get more points from the next eight games now.

“If we’d have got 12 points from eight, it would have been a miraculous total coming in from day one.

“But we’ve passed up that opportunity and it’s made the next group of eight games – with the fixtures in it – so much more difficult.

“We’ve got to get more points to try to stay on an even keel.

“We need to try to get at least nine again, maybe a few more.

“We’ve been chipping away at the games per points total, because 38 means you’re probably safe.

“This group of fixtures could be hugely difficult to get nine points from.”

However, despite Sunderland facing five encounters against Premier League heavyweights, they will also come up against three of the sides involved alongside them in the relegation battle.

Aston Villa and Bournemouth both visit Wearside over the next month, while Allardyce’s men also head to managerless Swansea in a week which includes trips to Arsenal in the FA Cup and then Spurs.