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Allardyce admits to Black Cats pressure

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce admits his side are under huge pressure heading into the busy Christmas period.

Defeats to Arsenal and Watford have seen the Black Cats drop back into the relegation zone and on Saturday they face another huge test when they travel to Chelsea.

Despite their recent slump, there is no doubt the team has improved since Allardyce’s arrival in October, recording wins over Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Stoke.

After the trip to Stamford Bridge, Sunderland then face Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa in a run of games that could prove crucial to the outcome of their season.

The cosmopolitan nature of the squad means not all of their players have played over the Christmas period and the demanding schedule could prove unfamiliar.

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Allardyce is a veteran of this situation but despite his expertise and experience, knows his side are well and truly in a dogfight.

The 61-year-old admits their position means they are under huge pressure and has called for a response from his players.

Allardyce said: “We’re in a position where we’ve got a few players who have not experienced Christmas before – the hurly-burly and the constant pressure that you come under for a short period of time, when everyone else is relaxing and you’re full-on 24/7.

“You’ve got to look into the players’ eyes and see whether the lads can handle it or not, particularly the lads who have only played in the Premier League for one season.”

He added: “We’ve slipped back into the bottom two and we have put enormous pressure on ourselves over the Christmas period to try and get out of there.”

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