Sam Allardyce admits Sunderland need to improve in the opening stages of their matches if Premier League safety is going to be achieved this season.
The Black Cats have the worst record in the top flight of conceding inside the first 15 minutes and this was highlighted on Saturday at the Stadium of Light when they fell behind to Bournemouth
in that time period.
Benik Afobe, who recently arrived at the Vitality Stadium from Wolverhampton Wanderers, grabbed his second goal for the club to give the Cherries a 1-0 lead.
Patrick van Aanholt did manage to salvage a draw for the hosts when the defender scored just before the break, but the club still remains in the bottom three.
An away trip to Liverpool follows four days later before fixtures with Manchester United and West Ham United bring their tough February run to an end.
Allardyce knows his side will need to cause an upset in one of those fixtures but the former Hammers boss says this won’t happen unless the players get out of the blocks quicker.
He said: “The stats tell us that we are hesitant in our starting positions, something we must try and change in terms of going forward, there is no doubt about that.”
Sunderland, who are priced at 1.25 to get relegated, are 6.50 outsiders to defeat the Citizens in their next match, a draw is priced at 4.33 while Manuel Pellegrini’s men have been installed as the 1.44 favourites to clinch all three points.