It’s do or die for Sunderland now if they wish to stay in the Premier League and things certainly won’t be made easy for them when they welcome West Ham United on Monday night.
Gus Poyet’s team managed to mount a late comeback against Liverpool at Anfield during the week but were unable to find an equaliser before the match finished. Meanwhile in London, West Ham were able to defeat Hull City 2-1, despite finding it difficult against 10 men after Allan McGregor’s sending off.
Sunderland remain in the bottom three and despite having some games in hand over the teams above them, one of those games is against Manchester City at the Etihad, so Sunderland need to make sure they win against teams at home if they are to save themselves from relegation.
Fabio Borini will be available once again for Sunderland after being ineligible to play against Liverpool on Wednesday night. However, Steven Fletcher and Keiren Westwood are still injured and will play no part in this game.
Winston Reid has been suffering with an illness this week but could be back in time to face Sunderland, as could Matt Jarvis who has been dealing with an injury. It will be too early for Sam Allardyce to call upon James Collins and Joey O’Brien however, who are both out injured for the next few weeks at least.
- Sunderland have kept four clean sheets in their last five league games against West Ham.
- They managed to beat the London side 3-0 when they faced each other in the corresponding fixture last season.
- Jozy Altidore has scored just one league goal since he signed for Sunderland last summer.
- West Ham have won three and lost the rest of their last six Premier League games.
- However, their last win in an away game was against Aston Villa on the 8th February.
- Similarly to Altidore, Andy Carroll has scored just one league goal for West Ham this season.
It says a lot about Sunderland’s season when Borini has been considered one of their top players despite scoring just three league goals in 23 appearances. The on-loan Liverpool striker has attempted 26 shots at goal this season and with 14 of them being on target, meaning he has a shooting accuracy of 54%. He is only attempting a shot every 54 minutes on average, it is worth remembering however that Poyet hasn’t always used him as the focal point of Sunderland’s attack. This doesn’t mean he has been great creatively speaking either. Borini has created just 14 chances with one of resulting in an assist. This means that the Italian has only been able to create a chance every 97 minutes on average this season. It is clear the stats show Borini isn’t exactly pulling up trees in the league this season but despite this, it is more likely that it will be he, not Altidore, who finds the goal against West Ham.
The West Ham captain has played fairly well again this season and it could be argued that the team find things much more difficult without him in the team. He has been accurate with 79% of his passes, completing 446 of 567. Fans will be pleased to know that most of his passing happens within the attacking zone of the pitch, however, he has only been accurate with 70% of these. Nolan’s minutes-per-chance ratio isn’t much better than Borini at 89 minutes, however, he has managed to make five assists for his team mates from the 20 chances he has created. The midfielder has always managed to contribute with goals as well as assists and has scored seven so far this season. He has achieved this from 37 shots at goal, 18 of these were on target, with a shooting accuracy of 49%. The team’s record hasn’t been very good against Sunderland in recent seasons, but if anyone can inspire them to a win then it is likely to be Nolan.
Sunderland have really struggled all season but it is more apparent now that they need a sense of urgency about them if they are to stay up this season. West Ham are not completely safe either but at least have a cushion between them and the bottom three. That being said, I think Poyet will push his team even harder on Monday night and will ultimately win the game 2-1.