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Sam Allardyce warns players: We cannot afford to fail

By Damien Spellman

Sam Allardyce has warned his Sunderland players they cannot afford another miserable failure as they head into their biggest game of the season.

Allardyce admitted that the Black Cats will be in desperate trouble if the gap between the number of Barclays Premier League games played and points gained reaches double figures, and that watershed could be perilously close if they do not beat fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light today.

Sunderland are currently four points better off than bottom-of-the-table Villa, but seven shy of safety, and their manager knows the point of no return is fast approaching after successive defeats by Arsenal, Watford, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Allardyce said: "It's the biggest game of the season - and the last time we faced the biggest game of the season, we failed miserably.

"That was Watford and Watford are a very good side, but we were capable of winning that game, I felt and on the performance, were capable of winning it even though we conceded early on and didn't take our chances.

Allardyce believes that averaging a point a game over the season will be enough to keep the club in the top flight, but they are currently some way off that.

Nevertheless, he is confident they can put that right over the second half of the campaign.

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