Norwich City boss Alex Neil gears up for a Premier League survival blockbuster against Sunderland
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil insists a Premier League relegation blockbuster against Sunderland holds no fears after another epic episode in the survival battle.
Norwich slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, but rivals Newcastle and the Black Cats both lost to maintain the Canaries' four-point gap to third-from-bottom Sunderland, ahead of their crunch visit to Carrow Road this weekend.
Neil watched Sunderland's 2-0 home defeat to Leicester on Sunday and warns Sam Allardyce's men will be even more desperate to cut the gap.
'Sunderland is the ideal match for us because we have a chance to get ourselves further away from the relegation zone,' he said. 'If you already have the points on the board that is the important thing but of course after our defeat Sunderland carries a bit of extra weight now. We could have put a bit of distance between us. What happened on Sunday dictates a lot. We know it is still four and we can extend it to seven.
'Sunderland was always going to be big, regardless of whether we won or lost (at Palace). If we had won it was going to be massive for them. If we had drawn then the situation doesn't really change, and if we had lost, like we have, then it was always going to be built up even bigger.'
Allardyce knows how important his side's Carrow Road visit has become after a bitter defeat to the Foxes.
'Don't lose at Norwich. Don't lose,' he said. 'The flickers of hope are there. Hopefully, we can achieve the performances, and the opportunities to win, that we saw against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton in the last six games. That's the hope that's still there for us.
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'They (Norwich) will be seven points clear of us if we lose. With five games to go, it still wouldn't be mathematically certain but it starts heaping too much pressure on you. We have to try to win, but make sure we don't lose. Don't forget, we've still got a game in hand.
'Norwich was always going to be big. There would be less pressure if we had won (against Leicester) but it was always going to be difficult to win. We are under extreme pressure that we have to make sure we handle.'