Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has told his players a massive improvement is required if they are to overcome Manchester City on Saturday.
The Black Cats are 19th in the Premier League as they prepare to travel to face third-place City on the back of three consecutive defeats.
Allardyce is concerned Sunderland have become too easy for opposition teams to play against and warned his squad they need to change that immediately against Manuel Pellegrini’s men, who impressed him despite losing to Arsenal last time out.
“We have to get back to being resilient out of possession and being mean in terms of what we give the opposition,” Allardyce told the club’s official website.
“It is Manchester City and it is a top team; I watched them on Monday night and they controlled the game away at Arsenal and had more possession than Arsenal, but unfortunately for them they made a couple of mistakes that Arsenal punished.
“The overall picture was that Manchester City dominated but because they were heavily punished by the quality of the finishing Arsenal showed they ended up losing the game, so I think if we are to get anything from the game we need to play an awful lot better than we have in the last couple of games.
“That is the main aim and even then it might not be enough to get anything from Man City, but at least we will get back to playing at that top level, which is what we are looking for over the Christmas period.”
Following the City clash, Sunderland are at home to Liverpool on December 30 before a crucial game against fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light on January 2.