Steven Fletcher was on the scoresheet against Fulham last week. Image courtesy of skysports.com
After scoring their first away win of the season against Fulham last weekend, Sunderland will be confident of collecting another three points when they welcome West Bromwich Albion to the Stadium of Light on Saturday night (AEST).
Black Cats manager Martin O’Neill is likely to recall Craig Gardener to his side after the midfielder missed the match at Craven Cottage through suspension. He will be a key player in the coming months, with Sunderland set to play four of its next five matches at home as they bid to move away from the foot of the table. While Sunday’s 3-1 win in London moved the side up to 15th, they are still just three points away from the relegation zone, largely due to a lack of goals. Despite having the equal-third best defence in the competition, they have managed to score just four times in eleven matches if you take out the contribution by key forward Steven Fletcher, who has found the back of the net six times during the current campaign.
While Sunderland has struggled somewhat, Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich outfit is flying high, with its 2-1 win over Chelsea last weekend propelling them into Champions League places. On the back of three straight wins, the Midlands based club is up to fourth on the table and can move – at least temporarily- within two points of leaders Manchester City if they collect the three points. The Baggies are likely to be boosted by the return of England goalkeeper Ben Foster, who has sat out the past two matches with a groin injury, while Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie will be looking to continue the form that has seen him score three goals in as many matches.
When the clubs met at The Hawthorns in February, West Bromwich scored a 4-0 win although a repeat of that scoreline seems unlikely, given how tight the Black Cats defence has been this season.
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