Preview: West Ham United Vs Sunderland - A Repeat Of Our Last Visit Would Be Nice

Julian Finney - Getty Images

It's Friday, which means it's match day tomorrow!

For those of you heading down to London, or those not, here is your one-stop shop for everything you'll need to know pre-game. Who's in? Who's out? What's the ref's name in advance of abusing him senseless (we don't condone that, but it's not so bad shouting it at a TV screen).

West Ham United have three clean sheets out of four in the league, and under Sam Allardyce are going to be another tough test for a Sunderland side that have drawn three straight games...

Sunderland Team News

Earlier in the week it was revealed that Carlos Cuellar's hamstring injury is likely to keep him out for a few weeks, whilst further caution will be taken with Adam Johnson.

Judging by Cuellar's replacement at half-time against Liverpool, Titus Bramble is expected to start in his absence alongside John O'Shea.

Aside from that, Stephane Sessegnon, James McClean, Steven Fletcher and Danny Rose all got significant game time last week and should look sharper this weekend. David Vaughan was one of four first team players to feature for the U21's in midweek as he closes in on a return to full fitness, but the best he can hope for is a place on the bench.

West Ham Team News

Andy Carroll remains sidelined, and Sam Allardyce has admitted he is unsure when Jack Collison will return to full fitness. But the good news for West Ham fans is that Matt Jarvis is aiming to be reinstated to the starting line-up after injury.

In Carroll's absence, Carlton Cole is likely to lead the line again but Modibo Maiga could be an alternative option at the spearhead of the Hammers' attack.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, Bramble, Cuellar, Rose; Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Mcclean; Sessegnon; Fletcher

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O'Brien; Diame, Noble; Vaz Te, Nolan, Jarvis; Cole

Key Matchup: Steven Fletcher Vs James Collins

The Welsh defender looks to be on the decline - culminating in a forgetful season at Aston Villa last term and the subsequent move to West Ham. He has already had a moment to forget this season when his woefully short back pass gifted Michu an early goal at the liberty Stadium. In contrast, Fletcher has hit the ground running since his summer transfer. Three chances and three goals has seen the Scottish striker already pay dividend on the £12m fee that Sunderland paid for him, but Collins has responded from that setback by contributing to a defence that has kept clean sheets in its last two Premier League games.

Recent Form: WLWWD

Win: West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa (Nolan 40)

Loss: Swansea 3-0 West Ham (Rangel 20, Michu 29, Graham 64)

Win: West Ham 2-0 Crewe Alexandra (Maynard 34, Maiga 55)

Win: West Ham 3-0 Fulham (Nolan 1, Reid 29, Taylor 41)

Draw: Norwich City 0-0 West Ham

Last Time Around: West Ham 0-3 Sunderland, 22/05/11

Sunderland added insult to injury, running out comfortable winners to underline West Ham's relegation to the Championship. Bolo Zenden put the visitors in front early on before a moment of brilliance from Stephane Sessegnon doubled their advantage. The game is perhaps memorable - aside from it being our first win at Upton Park since 2001 - for Cristian Riveros' one and only goal in a Sunderland shirt. Decent strike, too.

The Ref: Lee Mason

Mason was in charge of three of our games last season, with the results neatly falling in a one-win-one-loss-one-draw order. Of the three, the only real moment of controversy I can recall was the non-penalty decision at Old Trafford, where Ji Dong-Won had seemingly been fouled when assistant referee Jake Colin had put his flag across his chest, but the decision was later against the South Korean striker.

So far this season Mason has been in charge of three Premier League games, handing out eight yellow cards in the process.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

It is important to win games in the Premier league because if you start falling behind it's a long road back.

We've got three points in the first three games and all three matches have presented difficulties. It would be nice to win a game and I'm sure we will do that in due course.

The players are getting more confidence about their game.

Against Liverpool, particularly in the first half, we matched them, broke on them very strongly and scored a great goal. These things give a team confidence both individually and collectively.

They’re coming on nicely now. We have a set of games coming up and not only are we looking forward to them, I think we should go into them with confidence.

Sam Allardyce:

It has been a very good start from our point of view. We know the emphasis of shutting the opposition down when they have possession and we have also worked hard when we have the ball ourselves.

The start that the lads have made has given us a massive platform going into the rest of the season, but if I had to be slightly critical it would be that our finishing is not as good as it could be. We have created a lot of chances this season which is pleasing and we will keep working hard to ensure more of them end up in the back of the net.

The hardest thing in the Premier League is scoring goals but if our defence plays as well as they have been we only need one.

For me it is all about points. Points per game is much more important than league position. I think in the games we have had here including the cup game against Crewe we have done exceptionally well. We want to continue that against a very strong Sunderland side who have gone away to Arsenal and Swansea and come away with points. It will be very difficult for us.

Roker Report Predicts

It's a tough one, considering West Ham will be without its main striker and Sunderland, in all likelihood, its England international winger. Cuellar will be a miss, too, but under O'Neill Sunderland have portrayed a resilience when down on numbers defensively.

The pertinent hope is that O'Neill's concern about the fitness of his attacking players is valid, because they should all be close to regaining match sharpness now. One area where Sunderland must improve from last week is keeping hold of the ball; keeping an eye on Kevin Nolan from set-pieces goes without saying.

Ultimately, I think another draw, and another week passes as we search for a first win of the season. 1-1.

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