Sunderland v Stoke: Sam Allardyce open to 3-5-2 set-up at home

Fabio Borini in action for Sunderland during their 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light against West Ham United. Picture by FRANK REID

Fabio Borini in action for Sunderland during their 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light against West Ham United. Picture by FRANK REID

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Sam Allardyce insists there is no barrier towards Sunderland deploying a 3-5-2 system at the Stadium of Light.

A formation switch paid dividends for Allardyce in Monday night’s win at Crystal Palace, as Sunderland secured a first away success of the season - giving them the opportunity to move out of the drop zone if they can triumph against Stoke City this weekend.

There’s a negativity in this country about that system. It tend to be seen as boring, too defensive

Sam Allardyce

However, the two occasions when Sunderland have used three central defenders this season have been on the road, with a view to being resilient at the back.

Sunderland boss Allardyce is keeping coy over whether he will persist with 3-5-2 against the Potters, although he believes it is too easy to brand it as a negative set-up.

“I watched Juventus play at home on Wednesday with exactly the same system and beat Manchester City,” said Allardyce.

“There’s a negativity in this country about that system. It tend to be seen as boring, too defensive.

“But Juventus won the league with it and got to the final of the Champions League with it.

“It depends how the players get on in the system.

“The reality is that it might not stay the same, it might stay the same. We’re still in the position that we’ve got a long, long way to go to get our heads above the water.

“We’re still sinking at the minute, although we’ve given ourselves a little bit of hope by what we’ve achieved at Palace.

“Now my desire is for the players to show they can take that performance and better it against Stoke on Saturday.

“I think we need to better the performance, particularly in possession, to win.”

Regardless of the system, Allardyce will be forced into one change tomorrow, with right-back Billy Jones missing out through suspension.

However, Jermain Defoe is available despite limping off at Palace with a twisted ankle, while Fabio Borini is in Allardyce’s thoughts after shrugging off the ankle injury which kept him out at Selhurst Park.

Allardyce added: “I changed a winning side after the win against Newcastle, based on some injuries. That was forced upon me, compared to now when there’s more players available.

“Fabio Borini comes back into the squad, so you look at that alternative and wonder whether you’d play a back three and if you did, where you’d play him.

“One of the reasons for going three at the back was to stop the stupid goals going in that we’ve been conceded.

“And it also allows us to play two up top.”