Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce says he is growing increasingly concerned by the gap between his side and safety.
The Black Cats are currently second from bottom of the Premier League, with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea leaving them five points adrift of 17th-place Newcastle.
The loss at Stamford Bridge was also the Wearsiders’ third straight league defeat and Allardyce knows his side are now in danger of being cut adrift in the race for survival.
He told reporters: “Massively, massively now because if we’d got a result against Watford it would have taken us a little closer to the points-per-games total. We’re deeper in the mire from having played 17 games and got 12 points.”
Things do not get any easier for the Black Cats over the festive period, as they face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, before hosting Liverpool at the Stadium of Light on December 30.
The 61-year-old admits his players must improve if they are to take anything out of their next two matches and he is adamant they must start taking more responsibility on the pitch.
He added: “I have said to the players that they have to take more responsibility for their own performance and be more consistent.”
Sunderland have not won any of their last five meetings with City and they have conceded 16 goals during that sequence. They are outsiders at 15.00 to end that run on Saturday, whilst Manuel Pellegrini’s side are available at 1.20 and the draw is on offer at 7.00.