This Saturday sees Sunderland and West Ham do battle at the Stadium of Light in what is another tough test for the Black Cats after recent matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Sunderland currently sit in 14th place with 15 points collected so far. Gus Poyet’s side have improved slightly in recent weeks, after their humiliating 8-0 loss to Southampton at the St. Mary’s. Meanwhile, West Ham sit deservedly in fourth place with 27 points after 15 games becoming their best ever start to a Premier League season. The Hammers have also won three on the bounce after the narrow 2-1 defeat to Everton a few weeks ago. Sunderland are also inform though, with just one defeat in their last six league games (4-1 Manchester City).
Poyet has just three injuries to contend with heading into this weekends match-up. Patrick van Aanholt is expected to be out for the foreseeable future with a dislocated shoulder whilst Billy Jones is out until Christmas with a hamstring strain. Emanuele Giaccherini is also out until Christmas with an ankle knock.
Hammers manager Sam Allardyce has just two injuries to his squad but Mark Noble could be a big miss if he isn’t passed fit after his calf injury. Carl Jenkinson should be out following his hamstring injury.
– Adam Johnson has netted in two of his three games against West Ham.
– Kevin Nolan has netted six goals Premier League goals against Sunderland – only against Aston Villa has he scored more (7).
– West Ham have failed to score in four of their last six meetings with Sunderland.
– Diafra Sakho has bagged four headers from five on target attempts this season. Bet on him to score here with TailorBet.
– Stewart Downing has more Premier League assists this season (6 in 14) than he managed on 65 appearances for Liverpool (5).
– Sunderland have failed to score in seven of their last 11 Premier League matches.
Connor Wickham has been a hit and miss signing for Sunderland so far but his Black Cats career looks to be on the up after an improvement in form and a newly signed contract extension. Wickham has bagged just the three goals so far this season but he did score against Man City during the recent 4-1 defeat (albeit fortunate). Wickham also looked dangerous against Liverpool last Saturday and was perhaps unfortunate not to receive a penalty at the start of that Anfield clash.
Statistically Wickham could improve but he has created six chances for his teammates so far this term, with one assist being registered. What Wickham does possess is a hard working attitude and the engine to match. During this campaign, Wickham has worked hard to provide defensive cover down the left when deployed as a left forward, with Steven Fletcher as the central striker. So far, the Englishman has completed 28 clearances and 15 interceptions for the Black Cats which has helped to solve some of Sunderland’s early seasons defensive issues.
However, Wickham needs to become more precise if he is to find his next level of progression. The frontman has only registered a shooting accuracy of 33% so far this season with his passing a poor 64% too. Practice and concentration could go a long way to improving this.
Andy Carroll is another English striker currently looked to reinvigorate his career after a big money move with the big attacker now at his third Premier League club. Carroll has been restricted this season because of his injuries and has therefore only managed five appearances so far. However, last week Carroll made an impressive contribution to West Ham’s outstanding 3-1 victory Swansea City. The target man scored twice and grabbed an assist too which lead to his manager stating that Carroll could be “unstoppable”.
So far this campaign, Carroll has done what he does best, despite his limited match time. Carroll has won 53/76 of his headed duels this season and should prove to be a real handful for Poyet’s backline. Carroll has also used his height to create chances for his teammates with six chances and one assist registered in his five appearances – very decent form.
However, Carroll must improve his game on the floor with the striker winning none of his eight attempted tackles and completing zero of his two attempted take-ons. Clearly Carroll has his limits, Hammers fans will be hoping his presence doesn’t send them back to long ball football after witnessing some great play from their chargers this season.
My prediction for this game is 1-0 to West Ham. Although it could also be a draw with Sunderland posting the most stalemates so far this season. I think West Ham’s inform forwards will make the difference here with Sunderland seemingly more solid away from home than on home turf.