Narrow defeats and lack of clean sheets frustrates Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce
November's win at Selhurst Park was the sole 1-0 victory that Sam Allardyce has managed during his Sunderland tenure.
It was also the penultimate clean sheet for this side. After another shut-out the following weekend against Stoke City, Sunderland have shipped goals in every single game since then.
For a manager who has built success at his former clubs on the basis of solid defensive foundations, Sunderland’s vulnerability continues to grate on Allardyce.
And while Sunderland have struggled for 1-0 wins, the Black Cats have suffered six defeats out of Allardyce’s 19 games by that scoreline.
The sixth arrived at West Ham last weekend and Allardyce fears the repercussions of failing to peg back those losses into 1-1 draws.
Allardyce said: “Those games that have come and gone have been our Achilles heel ever since I’ve been here.
“How many 1-0 wins have we had?
“We can’t get a 1-0 win because we can’t keep a clean sheet.
“And then how many 1-0 wins have we had against us?
“West Brom, Southampton, West Ham, Watford, Liverpool, Manchester City. If we’d converted half of those into 1-1’s, or even won them 1-0, that could be the difference between staying up or not.
“I still think the clean sheets will be the deciding factor over whether we stay up in the next 11 games.
“If the lads get four or five, we’ll have a real good go at getting safe.”
Performance-wise, Sunderland have improved since benefiting from the impact of their January signings, yet Allardyce has again reiterated that the Black Cats require another five wins if they are to survive.
He added: “We have got 11 games and we have got to have our best run of the season.
“We have got to pick up five victories if we can in 11 minimum, and that’s 38 points in the hope that 38 points is going to be enough again this year.”