Sunderland v West Ham preview
Hammers face a winnable game in the north east
Inconsistent Sunderland have been as diabolical as much as they have been magnificent of late and are certain to be testing oppositiong for West Ham.
After their humiliating 5-1 reverse against bitter rivals Newcastle, the Black Cats have destroyed champions Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, drawn 2-2 against Everton before losing 3-2 to struggling Wolves.
The north east outfit are an impressive seventh in the table, but their defensive performance against Wanderers, a showing described as ‘awful’ by boss Steve Bruce should give the Hammers hope.
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Injuries to their back line has cost the Black Cats with the unfamiliarity all to apparent in Saturday’s defeat.
On the attack on loan Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck has been on fire, scoring four in their last three matches, while the form of fellow striker and record signing Asamoah Gyan has left Bruce with a difficult decision as to who should lead the line.
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Darren Bent is back from injury and started at the expense of Gyan last Saturday and his ability in front of goal, is the Mackem’s biggest threat.
Key to the game
Sunderland have tended to play with a lone striker but the emergence of Welbeck has forced the Black Cats to adopt a 4-4-2 formation, which is likely to be mirrored by West Ham.
Both sides are defensively shaky and it is likely whoever is stronger at the back will take the win.
If Victor Obinna is allowed to run at the Sunderland defence he will cause problems and will be vital that Valon Behrami supports from midfield, as the Hammers have struggled to push enough men into the box.
West Ham are terrible on the road, but did win at the Stadium Of Light in the Carling Cup earlier in the season.
Obinna and Frederic Piquionne caused the hosts all sorts of problems and if they replicate their showings this Sunday, West Ham could cause a surprise.
Sunderland however also are strong going forward and West Ham’s recent defensive woes are likely to rear up again.
Prediction: Sunderland 2 West Ham 1