Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce wants his players to learn lessons from the weekend defeat to West Ham and apply them in Tuesday’s crucial clash with fellow Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace.
Michail Antonio’s solo effort half an hour in ensured the hosts maximum points at Upton Park on Saturday as Allardyce came away with nothing against his former club despite a spirited second-half display from the visitors.
Missed chances proved Sunderland’s downfall after the break as they failed to leapfrog rivals Newcastle United and move out of the bottom three.
Sunderland’s top-flight status remains hugely uncertain, but a visit from out-of-form Palace and former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew could serve as the ideal tonic for Allardyce’s men.
Allardyce – set to be without Duncan Watmore (ankle) and Jeremain Lens (hernia) – said: “We have to recover because Tuesday now becomes a real pressure pot against Crystal Palace because everyone will be saying we have to win.
“So that’s what we must try to do but if we play like [Saturday] hopefully we can. The lads need to take confidence from the performance but also be more ruthless and more clinical next time.
“We made the [Palace] game even bigger by not getting any points so we will all get nervous and we know Crystal Palace will make life extremely difficult for us.
“We will have to show a lot of patience and we will have to be very clinical to try and get that victory, whilst ensuring we don’t let Palace do what they do best and that’s catch us on the counter attack.”
Pardew can expect a frosty reception at the Stadium of Light as he seeks to bring an end to Palace’s 10-match winless run in the Premier League.
Palace have picked up just three points since beating Stoke City in mid-December and slipped closer to the drop zone with defeat on Saturday to West Brom, having shipped three goals inside 32 minutes on their way to a 3-2 loss.
Pardew introduced Yannick Bolasie for Emmanuel Adebayor and tweaked his formation at half-time at The Hawthorns – prompting a fightback – and the Palace boss says their improvement after the break can build confidence.
“That [change] looked a lot better for us and that’s the way we’ve had our success, with Yannick Bolasie on the left and Wilfried Zaha on the right, so it was nice to see that starting to come back to us,” said Pardew, who sees Pape Souare serve the final match of his suspension this week.
“We have not had that for the eight or nine games we’ve not had a result in the league, but that will give us balance and I think we can gain confidence from the way we’ve reacted.
“Being 3-0 down at West Brom is a tough agenda with the way we played the first half, so fair credit to the lads for coming out and giving it a go.”
Key Opta Stats:
– The last three Premier League meetings between Crystal Palace and Sunderland have all ended as away wins.
– Sunderland have not won consecutive games at the Stadium of Light since May 2014.
– No side has kept fewer clean sheets at home in the Premier League this season than Sunderland’s tally of two.
– Sunderland have won six Premier League games so far this season; just one away from their whole season tally in 2014-15 (7).
– Palace have scored a league-high proportion (51.7 per cent) of their goals from set-pieces this season.
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