Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce challenges his players to finish survival push after moving above Norwich City

Sunderland's manager Sam Allardyce at the Stadium of Light for his side's clash with Arsenal. Pictur

Sunderland's manager Sam Allardyce at the Stadium of Light for his side's clash with Arsenal. Picture: Scott Heppell/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has challenged his players to complete their survival push, after seeing his team drag Norwich City into the relegation zone.

The Black Cats held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light to move above the Canaries into 17th place in the Premier League table, thanks to a better goal difference.

It was a fifth draw in seven matches for the north-east side, following up their 3-0 victory at Carrow Road.

'Our destiny is in our own hands now for the first time in many months with four games to go, so we have got to take full control of that, starting at Stoke next week,'Allardyce said.

'When we finish at Stoke, we have got to make sure we are out of the bottom three.'


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City had been outside of the bottom three since winning 1-0 at West Brom last month and then following that up with a 3-2 win over Newcastle but are now back in the danger zone.

The Canaries now have four matches remaining, away at Arsenal before home games with Manchester United – who booked their place in the FA Cup final on Saturday – and Watford, and a final day trip to Everton.

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Things could have been worse for Alex Neil's team at the weekend though, with Newcastle missing the chance to go above them as well on Saturday, when they drew 2-2 at Liverpool – coming back from 2-0 down in a spirited effort.

Norwich do not return to action until 5.30pm on Saturday at Arsenal but by then could be three points behind Sunderland and two behind Newcastle, who host Crystal Palace, who both play at 3pm.

Allardyce felt his side could have nicked all three points against the Gunners as well though, after referee Mike Dean turned away appeals when Per Mertesacker blocked Jermain Defoe's shot with his arms, although Alex Iwobi's effort also ricocheted into DeAndre Yedlin's arms for the visitors and was also ignored.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger thought Dean got both decisions right, but opposite number Allardyce was adamant his team should have been awarded a spot-kick.

He said: 'It was blatantly obvious for me. He sticks his arms out, turns his back – when you are trying to block a shot, you are not supposed to turn your back. He's not looking at the ball, sticks his arms out, stops a certain goal.

'Yes, for me definitely 100 per cent a penalty.'

The former West Ham and Bolton boss was particularly pleased with another clean sheet, Sunderland's third in four games.

Asked what was behind that improved run, he said with a smile: 'My brilliant coaching.'

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