Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce admitted to being "brainwashed" into believing Jermain Defoe was unable to play up front by himself.

The 33-year-old is set for another start when his relegation-threatened side hosts Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday. With 13 league goals this season, Defoe has managed to turn Allardyce into a believer as he leads Sunderland's survival bid.

Allardyce said he was convinced the Englishman needed a partner up front, but had been proven wrong. "He's been brainwashed - and I was almost brainwashed - into the fact that he couldn't play up front on his own, which is a bit of a nonsense, really," he said.

Allardyce added: "I know some of them came by playing somebody else up front with him, but we were clearly a team, when I first started, that couldn't play 4-4-2 on the basis of how many goals we were letting in. Jermain might score, but we let in one more than Jermain or whoever scored, so if we scored two, we'd lose three if we scored one, we'd lose two and so on and so forth."

Allardyce revealed he had once decided against bringing Defoe back to West Ham because of his belief he was unable to play as a lone striker. He said there was a different approach with other styles of players.

"Nearly everybody plays with one striker, with one up and one behind, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3," Allardyce said. "In the main it's very rare that teams play 4-4-2. Perhaps he has laid that to rest, that he cannot play up front on his own."

"We have to play a different way than if Steven Fletcher was up there. With a Fletch, you play it up for him to hold but Jermain isn't like that. He's the end game. Our build ups are designed to get him on the end of chances."