West Brom provided the biggest shock of the last round of Premier League fixtures when they won 2-0 against Liverpool at Anfield. It was a timely reminder that despite losing their way of late, West Brom are still capable of giving any side problems. They had such a strong first third to the season – hovering around the top six for long periods – that the expectations of supporters grew and some were disappointed that their form tailed off. However, if, back in August before a ball was kicked, you offered them a comfortable position in the top 10, I’m sure they would have taken it. They’re an established Premier League side these days and Steve Clarke is continuing where Roy Hodgson left off.
Martin O’Neill will be only too well aware that his side are a lot closer to the bottom of the table than the top end. Of course, Sunderland are not realistically viable candidates for a European spot but O’Neill and the clubs supporters would have been hoping for a top 10 place at worst, challenging for top eight. They started the season too slowly to have any real momentum or purpose coming into this stage of the campaign so it’s all about securing 40 points as quickly as possible and achieving as high a finish as is possible. One of their individual goals that they’ll have set themselves between now and May is to avenge defeats from earlier in the season, and that means winning on Saturday as they were defeated 4-2 at the Stadium of Light by Albion back in November.
The victory at Anfield was achieved with a little bit of luck but it was mainly down to how well West Brom defended as a side and the inspired form of Ben Forster on the night. Clarke will be aiming to follow that up with what would be their first home win since December. They have picked up just one point from their last three at the Hawthorns which is surprising considering they won seven of their first eight home games this season.
O’Neill bolstered his attacking options with the signing of Danny Graham in the January transfer window. The former Swansea man has yet to start a game for his new club but his arrival means that there is less pressure on Steven Fletcher who carried so much of the burden for the first half of the season. If the two are played together it should provide Sunderland with much more of a threat, especially at home.
There should be no shortage of entertainment at the Hawthorns tomorrow as seven of the last eight games between these two have resulted in at least three goals being scored. With six goals in the first game this season, and because both sides are able to play with a sense of freedom, it should be a similar case once again.
Over 2.5 goals EVENS @ Bet365