Sam Allardyce doesn’t even like Arsene Wenger but felt compelled to defend the Arsenal manager after this season saw even more people call for his removal from the club.

The two sides face up this weekend for what is most likely going to be a borefest with Big Sam sending his team out to sit deep and hit on the counter. Who can blame him, it works for so

Who can blame him, it works for so many against Arsenal.

But speaking before the game, the manager who has a worse record against Wenger than he likes to remember, said “He’s a brilliant manager.

“I can understand the frustration that they’ve slipped up by not winning this year.

“But he keeps getting this stick year in, year out.

“That’s rather unfair to a man who’s arguably got the best record as a manager that Arsenal have ever had.”

Sunderland know that if they are to avoid the drop they need to collect as many points as possible. A solitary one against Arsenal (or all three if the Gunners go full-Arsenal) could be the difference between life in the top flight and a season (at least) in the Championship.

“They (Sunderland) know you have to play a certain way to get Jermain on the end of it,” said the Black Cats’ boss.

“He’s the man who scores more goals than anyone else and converts more chances than anyone else.

“The rest of the team have a responsibility to score and get chances for themselves, but they also have to know that he’s the main man for us when it comes to scoring goals.

“So try to feed him in and around that box as much as you possibly can.

“From that point of view, with 16 goals in all competitions this year, he’s proved to be very successful.”

Little hint there, Arsene…tell someone to mark Defoe.

You know, just in case they don’t realise themselves.