Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has played down the team’s recent upturn in form, insisting the club are still in deep trouble at the wrong end of the Premier League.
The Wearside club have won three of their last five games, with their second consecutive victory – a 2-0 success over Stoke City last weekend – pulling Sunderland out of the relegation zone.
Allardyce’s men now head to Arsenal seeking to claim a first away league win over the north London club since 1983 and know they could go five points clear of the bottom three on Saturday should results go their way.
He said: “We’ve gone a long way to trying to get our way out of the position that we’re in but we’ve still a long way to go. At the minute we’ve won the sprint, but we’re in the marathon don’t forget. We have slightly relieved the situation but we’re still in deep relegation trouble.”
Sunderland will be without Jermain Defoe because of a hamstring injury and, asked who could fill the void, Allardyce replied: “Duncan [Watmore], Fabio Borini, Adam Johnson, there’s a few there that can step up to the mark and be capable of scoring goals against Arsenal.
“We’ll have to be at our most clinical because I think chances that we will create will be difficult to come by. When we get the opportunity to attack, attack with a decisiveness and accuracy that causes Arsenal some problems.
“I’ve never won at Arsenal, drawn a few but never won. The clubs not won there since the eighties, when out kitman was in the squad, and Paul Bracewell my assistant played, so it shows you how long it’s been.
“Anything can happen on any day in the Premier League, let’s hope it’s our day, let’s hope we get a little bit of good fortune, let’s hope we play very, very well and if we can do all that we might get a result.”