Sam Allardyce believes Sunderland may need to beat Leicester City if they are to avoid relegation from the Premier League this season.
Sunderland welcome the league leaders to the Stadium of Light next Sunday sitting four points adrift of Norwich City in 17th place after Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with West Brom.
Allardyce was left hugely frustrated after his side kept a first clean sheet in 18 attempts in all competitions but failed to take any of the plethora of chances they created and had to settle for a fourth straight draw.
Asked how he saw the table now, he said: “Well, we have got to beat Leicester next week and then we have got Norwich to come, so the closer we get points-wise to Norwich, the more and bigger the game it’s going to be.
“We can’t afford to be any further away. We have a game in hand – which is Everton here – but that doesn’t happen until the last week of the season and we don’t want to be too far away from Norwich when we play them, so we have got to try to beat Leicester now.”
Sunderland, who have now won just once in 10 league games, might have collected the victory they so desperately need had leading scorer Jermain Defoe had his shooting boots – or more accurately, his head – on. Or had Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster not been in such fine form.
Foster made fine saves from Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff, two from Fabio Borini and at the death, kept out Defoe’s 89th-minute strike with his foot on a day when another priceless two points went begging.
Allardyce, who saw a stoppage-time strike from substitute Dame N’Doye correctly ruled out for offside, said: “I don’t know what else we can do, I don’t know what I can say. We have had, I think without any question, the best performance for 90 minutes I have had since I have been here.
“Unfortunately there was a guy in the goal who stopped us scoring two or three goals today, and when we finally thought the gods were looking upon us to score one, we were offside, so it’s been a hugely frustrating afternoon.”