Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has backed his players to keep their nerve a little better in the relegation run-in than Tottenham did at the other end of the table.
Sunderland are a point off safety with a game in hand on 17th-placed rivals Newcastle United, ahead of their home match against Chelsea on Saturday.
Tottenham blew their chance to stay in the title race against the same opposition on Monday, when they lost a 2-0 half-time lead at Stamford Bridge in a match that descended into anarchy amid a number of wild challenges and sideline bust-ups.
But Allardyce does not expect the heat to get to Sunderland’s players in the same way against Chelsea.
“You saw it in Tottenham on Monday night when they lost the plot. We can’t afford to do that. We have to stay focused from start to finish,” he said.
“Tottenham lost a goal then lost the plot mentally, so then all of a sudden, all the talent they have in that side just went by the way.
“They ended up not only losing the game, but doing the strangest thing I’ve ever seen a Tottenham side do, and that’s get nine players booked and make some quite ferocious tackles at the same time.
“That shows you. What happened to Tottenham mentally, we cannot afford for that to happen to our team.”
Allardyce said the atmosphere should not be as hostile as it was for Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, as the former West Ham manager backed his club’s supporters to pack out the Stadium of Light and roar his boys home.
“My hope is the players will remember what they need to do. It will be about making sure that you play the game in the right way and don’t let the occasion overcome you,” he said.
“We’ll have a full house of Sunderland fans, a full house willing us, cheering us, supporting us to try to achieve a result to get another miraculous escape from a team that’s threatened with relegation once again. We hope we can deliver.”
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