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Sunderland Focus - Pressure mounting as Black Cats look for first win of the season

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By Damian Boucaud

Friday 21 September 2012

After three entertaining draws in three games Sunderland have kept their fans thoroughly entertained and will be looking to build on a solid start by notching their first win of the Premier League campaign against West Ham.

With three points on the board and a game in hand they find themselves in 15th place early in the season and eager to move up as quickly as possible. With win a first win on their minds, the Mackems will be hoping for some consistency from their starting XI over the next few matches. Consistency in every part of the pitch might be the one knock on Sunderland so far this season, and a good performance in each third of the park will be necessary to turn draws into wins.

In the draw against Arsenal their defensive effort was aided by a hard working midfield both combining to shut out Arsenal. Unfortunately the strikers were a no show resulting in a 0-0 draw. At Swansea it was a different story as the Mackems brought their new ace Steven Fletcher to the party and he delivered an impressive brace. Fans however would have been disappointed that despite his sharp display in front of goal, defensive lapses resulted in yet another draw. In their most recent contest, Liverpool provided a stern test to which they responded well but still lacked creativity in the middle of the park.

Fletcher’s impact has been a massive boost for the Mackems as he has quickly become their leading scorer and biggest threat in front of goal. His price tag may have raised a few eyebrows but he has quickly turned his doubters into believers with his goal scoring acumen. On his own however Fletcher can only do so much and needs some support from his fellow strikers. Stephane Sessegnon, although naturally an attacking midfielder, has been pegged as a regular strike partner for Fletcher but has struggled to regain fitness after recovering from an injury last summer.

If Sessegnon continues to struggle Martin O’Neill may look to the experience of Louis Saha, or the hungry Fraizer Campbell for answers. Connor Wickham is also due a chance due to his recent good form with the England Under-21 squad. Regardless of who gets a run up front with Fletcher, it is clear he needs some support from the other strikers as his incredible scoring rate to start the season will likely drop off eventually.

With the buzz centered around the club’s unbeaten start to the season and the addition of new faces to the club, fans will now want wins more than anything else to really kick start this season. Any chance of making a push for a European spot begins now, and Sunderland will be looking to take up a position in the top half of the table to give themselves a fighting chance for next year’s big competitions. A consistent effort in every area on the pitch will no doubt be the best way to begin their journey up the table.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on West Ham v Sunderland

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