Sam Allardyce reveals how close he came to changing Sunderland’s formation at Norwich

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Sam Allardyce admits he was seriously contemplating changing Sunderland’s formation ahead of the pivotal clash with relegation rivals Norwich City.

Allardyce experimented with various systems and personnel in training last week, including the use of a front two with Jermain Defoe partnered by Dame N’Doye in attack.

At one stage, it looked as if Allardyce would put his faith in that 4-4-2 for a game which Sunderland realistically needed to win to keep their survival hopes alive, yet he eventually decided to stick with the same starting XI for the third game on the spin.

That paid off after Sunderland’s 3-0 triumph moved them to within a point of the fourth bottom Canaries.

“I considered changing the team in the week,” said Allardyce. “I tried a couple of systems, but I didn’t like the look of them and didn’t like the feel.

“In the end, we met as a staff and said that the lads had played really well recently, even though we didn’t get the results. We decided to go with it again and, in the end, it was the right decision.”

Allardyce faces fresh decisions this week over whether to name the same XI for Sunday’s visit of Arsenal after fit-again Duncan Watmore made far more of a impression than fellow winger Wahbi Khazri, who was hauled off at half-time at Carrow Road.