West Bromwich Albion can continue their fine run under Tony Pulis with a victory over a Sunderland side that is under pressure to appease their expectant supporters.
Manager Gustavo Poyet wrote an open letter to all followers of the Black Cats during the week in the aftermath of the criticism directed towards the team in tame defeats in their last two games. Those two results against Queens Park Rangers and Bradford City came just as they looked to be turning the corner.
After a run of improved performances, the manner in which they became the first side to lose at home to QPR this season was lamentable, and it has seen them dragged back into a relegation fight, making this a huge game and one they must start well to avoid discontent from the stands.
The visitors have been a team transformed in recent weeks, and their last two performances have been nothing short of imperious, with striking duo Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye combining superbly to vanquish Swansea City and then West Ham United in the FA Cup.
Although he did not get on the scoresheet, midfielder Craig Gardner produced a dynamic display against the Hammers as they dominated throughout, and he would like nothing better than to get the better of his former club here as he returns to the Stadium of Light for the first time since leaving last summer.
Sunderland will hope to have Jermain Defoe and Emanuele Giaccherini back after they both missed the game at Bradford.
The visitors have almost a fully-fit squad with captain Jonas Olsson in line for a return. They are waiting on the fitness of striker Victor Anichebe, who has missed the last two games.
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