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Sunderland Must Risk It All Against Norwich

Sam Allardyce has declared the game against the Canaries a must not lose but here's why, with games running out, it's time to ditch the 'protect the point' mentality and go all out for the win.

Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

In a strange sort of way the defeat to Leicester on Sunday surprised me. Prior to kick off the Stadium of Light was filled with positivity emanating from the red and white faithful, and with results the day before suiting Sunderland it looked like the stars were aligning in readiness for the beginning of yet another great escape.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course but looking back perhaps three points was an ask too far for us. After all, the Foxes are about to win the league in quite comfortable fashion.

It's an extraordinary achievement on their part but clearly the day wasn't about Leicester City, not for our supporters in any event.

Big Sam appeared dejected during his post match interviews as you'd expect and he must know better than anyone that time is now running out.

However, it's intriguing that since the Leicester game Sam Allardyce has described the Norwich game as a ‘must not lose' rather than a ‘must win'.

Surely, if this were a game of relegation Texas Hold'em it's time Big Sam went all in.

It's a miracle in some respects that we're still in the hunt and with four points adrift plus a game in hand now is the opportunity for us to reach out a metaphorical hand and drag Norwich City back into the mix.

The Canaries are likely to view the match against us as a game in which they can afford to be a little more gung-ho - they have that points cushion and a victory for them would all but put us down.

With this in mind I'd consider we need to put a more attacking midfield on the pitch in order to maximise the chances of us getting all three points.

Much has been made of Big Sam's substitutions recently but it's his starting midfield that has had me baffled. Lee Cattermole is many things but a marauding attacking, creative midfielder he is certainly not.

Personally I'd take Yan M'Vila out of the firing line. He's been an incredible success this season but given his lack of game time before joining I feel he's become jaded and in my view has faded during the last half dozen games or so. I wasn't surprised to see him subbed on Sunday as frankly he was ineffectual.

However, if we're going to reward Catts for the endeavour he shows during training then I'd drop him further back with Jan Kirchoff continuing to sit the deepest.

To add more of a creative spark and ingenuity I'd move Wahbi Khazri from the wide position to that central role. Then either re-introduce Duncan Watmore to the wing role, if he's fit, or try Jeremain Lens there again. Yes there are question marks over the Dutchman's temperament but we've seen that he is capable of causing problems for teams on his day.

The safety first/protect the point mentality is fine for the majority of matches but eventually, when things aren't going your way, there comes a time when caution should be thrown to the wind.

They say the larger the risk the bigger the reward. The time to roll the dice is here.