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Allardyce stares down massive opportunity vs. old club Sunderland

Crystal Palace v Everton - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Sam Allardyce manager of Crystal Palace looks on prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Everton at Selhurst Park on January 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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There’s a giant opportunity staring down Sam Allardyce and Crystal Palace this weekend, as its four closest relegation rivals face extremely difficult tests.

Palace faces Sunderland, Allardyce’s former club. A win would boost the Eagles out of the drop zone if Middlesbrough loses or Leicester City or Swansea City fail to win.

A loss, however, brings the Black Cats level with Palace on 19 points.

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With Swansea, Leicester, Middlesbrough, and Hull City all facing Top Six competition, it doesn’t get any bigger for Allardyce. The manager known for having never been relegated can take a big step on Saturday.

That he can do it against the team he kept from the drop zone last season is a juicy subplot. Allardyce left Sunderland in the summer to take the England managerial position, a short tenure which ended in disgrace when the 62-year-old was caught by a hidden camera sting.

So how will Sunderland react? From the BBC:

“I don’t really know. No way I could turn the England job down so I’m sure they’ll be okay.”

Allardyce was also asked about Patrick van Aanholt, who is playing Sunderland just days after transferring from the Stadium of Light to Crystal Palace.
“He’s a professional, he chose us and very quickly he’s playing his old club. We will want to give a good performance”.

Allardyce finally has his first Premier League win as Crystal Palace boss, giving him two wins, five losses, and a draw in eight matches overall.

The manager is 5W-10D-4L all-time against Sunderland.

Follow @NicholasMendola