Sunderland will be desperate to claim a vital home win when they welcome mid-table West Bromwich Albion to the Stadium of Light, the kind of game they have to take three points from if they wish to survive.
It was agonising again for Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce as his team were unable to hang on to another lead in their last game, this time away to arch rivals and fellow strugglers Newcastle United. It is a recurring theme that is threatening to undermine the frequent scoring exploits of Jermain Defoe, but on the bright side recent performances have done more than enough to suggest that they can the one that escapes out of the adrift bottom four.
With Newcastle facing Norwich, it is key that the hosts focus on their own task here, and aside from a change of mentality, in order to get a positive result here Sunderland will need to find some inventiveness in order to prise open the perenially compact Albion backline, so they will look to avoid being dragged into a midfield scrap. Wing-backs Patrick van Aanholt and DeAndre Yedlin have been central to their play of late, so will again be looked upon to come forward and provide the all-important width.
A two-week break after a strong run of form that had culminated in a first ever home Premier League win over Manchester United may have just broken West Brom’s momentum when they took to the field against Norwich City for their last match, as they turned out a lifeless display by comparison. It was a tight affair with chances few and far between at both ends, but the front three were ineffective throughout and they did not manage a shot on target.
The Baggies will expect to perform better here and they have a player who all the home supporters will be wary of. Stephane Sessegnon spent the best part of three years on Wearside and has been resurgent since regaining his place in the team back in the Autumn, and his pace and trickery will surely cause the home defence problems, especially when the wing-backs leave their defensive positions vacant. Always one to be cautious, Head Coach Tony Pulis will be intent on his gaining the point they need to reach the 40 mark.
Duncan Watmore is the only player definitely out for Sunderland, who are hopeful over the fitness of Younes Kaboul and Billy Jones.
James Morrison and Chris Brunt are still out for the visitors, and this game also comes too soon for Callum McManaman.
Last Meeting: There was little to be excited about in February 2015 as West Brom held firm to hold Sunderland to a tame goalless draw. Chances were scarce, but Sunderland came the closest as Adam Johnson had a goal ruled out while goalkeeper Ben Foster kept out efforts from Sebastian Larsson and Connor Wickham.