West Brom v Sunderland 15:00 Sat
Sunderland will be looking to build on last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Arsenal when they travel to Hawthorns on Saturday at long odds with Stan James as they face West Bromwich Albion in the Premiership.
The Black Cats learnt from their league loss against the Gunners earlier in February and managed to progress in the domestic tournament with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the North London outfit last week.
Since Martin O’Neill took over at the helm of the North East side, it has been no secret that Sunderland have undergone a meteoric rise in the Premier League and an away victory on Saturday would allow the Northern Irishman’s side to climb to eighth place, should Norwich City lose against Manchester United as would be protracted by many.
Sunderland currently have the fourth best away defence in the Premier League, conceding on average just 1.08 goals per game when playing away from the Stadium of Light this season.
However, their goalscoring rate hasn’t been up to quite the same standards with the Black Cats recording only 1.17 away goals per game this campaign.
Much of that has been down to the fact that on-loan Nicklas Bendtner has been forced to bare the brunt of the attacking burden this season, with just youngsters Connor Wickham and summer signing Ji Dong-Won as backup.
However, Frazier Campbell’s return from an eighteen-month injury has been a successful one so far; so much so that Stuart Pearce saw fit to choose the 23 year-old for his experimental England squad earlier this week, while 22yr old midfielder James McClean has been showing scintillating form which has resulted in a call up to the Republic of Ireland squad.
Despite Sunderland’s attacking worries, the Baggies aren’t doing any better and have the worst home offence in the English top flight, scoring a miserable 0.75 goals per home game on average this season, but can take confidence from recent wins over Stoke and Wolves and the return of form of striker Peter Odemwingie, who bagged a hattrick in their last game.
Roy Hodgson’s side have the chance to climb up three places with a home victory this weekend and will move that much closer to ensuring their survival in England’s elite, but will need to turn around some disappointing home performances, and the arrival of Sunderland will prove considerable opposition as they hope to carry on with their trailblazing run up the Premier League table.