Allardyce relishing opening day test of Guardiola and Manchester City

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce

Sunderland travel to the Etihad Stadium on the opening weekend of the Premier League season before hosting Middlesbrough.

 

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has told the club's official website that his team should relish being the first Premier League side to test new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

The release of the Premier League fixtures on Wednesday has the Black Cats down to travel to the Etihad Stadium on the opening weekend, giving Allardyce's side a tough start to the campaign.

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Sunderland have never won at the Etihad and are traditionally slow starters in the top flight, with last season seeing them playing catch up on their rivals after taking just three points from their opening nine games.

Dick Advocaat lasted for just eight of those matches before Allardyce took over, eventually bridging the gap at the bottom to secure survival on the penultimate week of the season.

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However, despite his joy at preserving his team's Premier League status for another season, Allardyce is keen to avoid another relegation battle next term.

And while Allardyce admits the trip to Manchester will be a challenging task for his side, he says it is one his players should relish, particularly with his team set to welcome Teeside rivals Middlesbrough to the Stadium of Light the following week.

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“We have a tough start, facing Manchester City in Pep Guardiola’s first game on the opening day of the season, but it’s definitely a fixture we’ll be looking forward to, you’ve got to relish these games,” he told the club's website.

“Meanwhile Middlesbrough in the first home game is a great fixture.

“We know we need to start better than we did last season and everything we do in pre-season will be geared towards making that happen."

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