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Wily Allardyce declares Villa game a nine-pointer

Sam Allardyce has cannily labelled Sunderland’s relegation battle with Aston Villa a ‘nine-pointer’, presenting his side with a golden opportunity to move out of the drop zone with just one win.

After a bright start to life at Sunderland, the Dudley-born tactician has struggled in recent weeks, but he has again demonstrated his tactical nous ahead of Saturday’s encounter.

Victory over rock-bottom Villa would see Sunderland move up to 21 points and take full advantage of the fact that their rivals are competing for a mere three points.

“Obviously it’s a massive motivator for us that the gaffer’s made it a nine-pointer,” Duncan Watmore told FFT.

“It’s just not even an option to settle for the three points [for a draw], we have to go out there believing we can get all nine.

“We’re all pumped up for the game and the fans can count on us players all giving 300 percent.”

Dogfight credentials

Allardyce is renowned for his dogfight credentials, famously keeping Bolton up in 2003 by ingeniously declaring their final-day clash with Middlesbrough a ‘must-win game’.

“[Big] Sam’s a great professional. He knows his way around a relegation battle,” Lee Cattermole told FFT.

“He knows when to issue a rallying call, when to say other teams are too good to go down and when to release mustard gas into the opposition changing room. Sorry, forget that last one. That certainly isn’t something we’ve discussed in training.”

For Villa the clash represents a chance to more than double their season points tally, although some sources suggest that boss Remi Garde was in fact keen to make the game a ‘one-pointer’ in order to prevent his side being cut further adrift at the bottom in the event of defeat.

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