Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has called on his side to gird for an inspired performance from recently out-of-sorts Stoke City when they play on Saturday at Britannia Stadium.
With European spots in the Premier League out of reach for Stoke and the team having secured their top-flight status for next season, questions have arisen about their desire to finish the campaign strong after losing their last three games.
Sunderland played out a goalless draw with fourth-placed Arsenal on Sunday to climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since early March, and Allardyce expects Stoke City counterpart Mark Hughes to fire up his squad ahead of Saturday.
“I’ve known Mark for many, many years … He will not be a happy man, believe you me,” Allardyce told British media.
“We are in good form at the moment… but I would expect Mark will have Stoke really revved up and he will want to stop this very poor run of performances. But I do hope they’re as bad as they have been in the last three games!”
Hughes will give his pre-match news conference on Friday.
With just four games left, Sunderland, who are 17th in the table, will look to take a step closer to top-flight safety in their away match with 10th-placed Stoke City on Saturday.