Allardyce hopes Palace players can handle ‘massive pressure’ against Sunderland


Palace secured their first Premier League win since Allardyce succeeded Alan Pardew when they beat Bournemouth on Tuesday, and a further three points could ensure they conclude the weekend outside of the bottom three.

Saturday’s fixture against rock-bottom Sunderland, particularly with the improved confidence of their midweek victory on the south coast, appears their most winnable under Allardyce since they hosted Swansea in his first home match as manager.

On that night a month ago they instead produced perhaps their worst performance of the season, were booed off at half-time, and contributed much to fellow relegation battlers Swansea earning three crucial points.

Sunderland, who Allardyce left last summer to accept the England job, are without a win in eight matches in all competitions and, should Palace win, they will leave the Black Cats in even deeper trouble.

Swansea were in a similar position a month ago, however, and to that end Allardyce said: “I just need the players to handle the pressure, because it is massive pressure on us.

“We will be – particularly from our fans – expected to win. We had that sort of expectation against Swansea just a few weeks ago. There were different circumstances why we lost that game then, but it is the same pressure we have to deal with and produce a performance.

“For the players it’s making sure they focus like they did on Tuesday night, with the level of performance they gave.

“Hopefully that’d be enough to win. I would hate to see the type of performance we gave against Swansea.”

Inspiring Sunderland to survival last season perhaps represented the finest achievement of the 62-year-old Allardyce’s career, and he is expected to receive a warm reception from the visitors.

New signing Patrick van Aanholt is also expected to make his home debut for Palace – after appearing for the first time at Bournemouth – and in Sunderland will come up against the club he has just left.

“I don’t know if some of them are still disappointed I left,” said Allardyce.

“Some are still really appreciative of what happened in my short period there.

“In the end they all knew that there was no way on earth that I could turn the England coach’s position down. I’m sure they’ll be reasonably okay.

“Patrick will be okay. He’s a professional; decided to move on, chose us, and very quickly we’re playing against his old club. I’m sure he’ll want to give a very good performance.”

Allardyce remains without the injured Jeffrey Schlupp, Steve Mandanda and Bakary Sako. New arrivals Mamadou Sakho and Luka Milivojevic will also miss out, respectively owing to a lack of match fitness and issues with a visa.

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