The last time Sunderland faced Leicester City at the Stadium of Light, both clubs were scrapping against relegation.
Now, the Midlands club sit a cool seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
The pressure on Allardyce’s men would be greatly reduced if Palace can prevent a Norwich victory.
Claudio Ranieri will be looking to exploit a Sunderland side who have failed to turn impressive performances into wins of late and extend that gap to ten, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s clash with Manchester United.
The story remains the same on Wearside however, though the scale of the gap that must be closed won’t be known until around 5pm on Saturday.
In one of the biggest games of our season, Norwich City take on a Crystal Palace side who could well be dragged into the mire themselves; the result will go a long way to deciding whether we stay up or not.
Although Palace could be sucked into the bottom three, their relatively impressive goal difference, number of games played (32 to Norwich’s 31) and seven point lead on Sunderland makes them a far less likely candidate to go down than the Canaries. Wearside – and Tyneside – will be hoping Alan Pardew can turn his team’s fortunes around and claim the three points.
If they do manage that, it means we’ll have played two games fewer than Norwich as we head into Sunday’s game.
The pressure on Allardyce’s men would be greatly reduced if Palace can prevent a Norwich victory; win, lose or draw, Sunderland’s destiny would remain in their own hands.
A Norwich win would mean Sunderland simply have to take something from Sunday’s game.
Given Leicester’s position in the table and their ability to grind out 1-0 wins in a manner that has eluded Sunderland of late, the odds are certainly in their favour.
Their lead over Spurs, and the fact that they play before them on Sunday, will allow them to play with freedom, something the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy will undoubtedly relish.
While Leicester have been increasing that lead, Sunderland have been throwing away opportunities to win.
It’s not unreasonable to suggest we could be a good six to eight points better off, which had they been claimed, would have ensured the pressure was on Norwich and Palace this Saturday.
Ifs and buts get you nowhere and a failure to be clinical has cost us dearly.
We can’t afford to be so generous to a Leicester side that are likely to be far more ruthless than Newcastle or West Brom, when presented with an opportunity.
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