Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion Preview

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jermain Defoe of Sunderland in action during the Premier League match between Sunderland FC and Crystal Palace FC at Stadium of Light on September 24, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Kick-Off – Saturday 3pm GMT

Venue – Stadium of Light

Referee – Stuart Atwell

Last Season – 0-0

It’s safe to say that once again Sunderland have failed to start a season well. For several seasons now, the Black Cats have failed to win a game during the opening two months of the season. Supporters, therefore, will be delighted that it will be October when this crucial home game is played. With this being the case, maybe David Moyes‘s men can finally begin picking up points. For West Brom, they will be hoping to at the very least to keep their place in the middle of the table ahead of some very tough fixtures in the coming weeks.

Team news

The home side have plenty of injury problems heading into this crucial game. Adnan Januzaj is out for a minimum of six weeks, captain Lee Cattermole has been ruled out as has striker Victor Anichebe. Steven Pienaar who went off injured last week has also failed to recover. The home side will also be without long-term absentees Vito Mannone, Seb Larsson and Fabio Borini.

One man hoping to benefit from the injury list is Wahbi Khazri. The Tunisia international is expected to return to the first team in place of Januzaj. Fans have been calling for his return in recent weeks and this weekend could be his chance to show David Moyes why he was an important player in last seasons relegation fight.

American youngster Lynden Gooch who has impressed this season is pushing for a recall and Paddy McNair is also hoping for a start after scoring twice in the League Cup and coming off the bench last weekend.

West Brom have no injury concerns and an unchanged side is expected. However, Saido Berahino is once again available after missing the draw at Stoke City. Midfielder James Morrison is also pushing for a recall to the starting eleven.

Recent form

One point from six games has left Sunderland at the foot of the table and points must come soon. Fans will be looking at this fixture as a must win game but it is expected to be tough. However, the silver lining for them is that this game will be played in October, a month where they usually start to get their act together.

The Baggies find themselves in mid-table after a positive start to their campaign. Two wins and two draws in their first six matches has left them a respectable 10th place. However, games against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City await. Their fans will therefore be wanting to take at least a point back to the Midlands.

Can Defoe outscore WBA?

This is what this game could come down too. Although Jermain Defoe is in form (four goals in six games), goals look unlikely from elsewhere at the moment. Sunderland rely heavily on the Englishman and once again his goals will be crucial this season. West Brom will be hoping David Moyes sticks with the zonal marking tactic as this could provide opportunities. The tactic has not worked well so far this season and was evident again last weekend against Crystal Palace. Moyes’s men let a two goal lead slip, eventually losing 2-3. Although fans have their fingers crossed the tactic is not used, if it is employed once again, the Baggies will undoubtedly get chances. Baggies boss Tony Pulis will be putting his hopes on in form striker Solomón Rondón heaping more misery on the Black Cats leaky defense.

Final thoughts

Everyone knows that this is already a must win game for the men from Wearside. Over 40,000 will be willing their side on to begin a move up the table and kick-start their season. With just six games gone, the win is already more important than the performance for the home team. The Baggies will be hoping to heap more misery onto their opponents and they are playing them at the right time. The last three games have produced just the one goal but don’t be surprised to see goals in this one, along with plenty of nerves and drama.

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