Preview: Boing-Boinging Above The Baggies?

Matthew Lewis

Tomorrow sees a meeting of the Premier League's bottom two sides - albeit after only four games apiece - as Sunderland travel to The Hawthorns and West Bromwich Albion. Despite being only September, it is hard not to feel both sides view this as a must-win game, with both teams looking for their first league victory of the season.

Sunderland Team News

Sunderland welcome back John O'Shea following the captain's one match suspension after his red card at Crystal Palace last month. O'Shea will almost certainly slot straight into the team, likely displacing Valentin Roberge.

Paolo Di Canio will also be able to choose a fit again Emanuele Giaccherini, while Lee Cattermole could also feature, having been brought back in from a mini-exile. Wes Brown, who was a substitute against Arsenal at the weekend, will miss out through a calf injury.

West Bromwich Albion Team News

Almost inevitably, Stephane Sessegnon looks set to make his Baggies debut against the very side that sold him less than three weeks ago. The Benin international was unavailable for last week's draw at Fulham, but has now been cleared to play and granted a work permit.

Manager Steve Clarke has hinted that Nicolas Anelka's place in the side is not guaranteed. The Frenchman has not scored yet this season, and faces pressure from both Sessegnon and James Morrison for the supporting role behind fellow new boy Victor Anichebe.

Elsewhere, Clarke has a fairly lengthy number of players sidelined through injury. Ben Foster's absence in goal will continue as he recovers from foot surgery, while Steven Reid, Zoltan Gera, Shane Long and Matej Vydra all look likely to miss out.

Predicted Lineups

West Bromwich Albion vs Sunderland - Football tactics and formations

West Bromwich Albion: Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Yacob, Sinclair; Sessegnon; Anichebe

Sunderland: Westwood; Celustka, Diakité, O'Shea, Colback; Johnson, Cattermole, Ki, Giaccherini; Fletcher, Altidore

Key Matchup: Scott Sinclair Vs Ondrej Celustka

Scott Sinclair's place in the West Brom side tomorrow is not actually assured - Steve Clarke has a number of options at left wing, with James Morrison, Chris Brunt and even Stephane Sessegnon all possible selections there. Yet, should he opt for Sinclair, it could see a tantalising matchup unfold between the man on loan from Manchester City and Sunderland's newest right-back.

Sunderland's preference for attacking full-backs this season has been evident, as has the way this has often left them very open when possession is turned over. Celustka is keen to get forward but, should Sinclair start, he will have to have his wits about him in order to protect his side from vulnerability down the right. Sinclair is has plenty of pace and is skilful enough to make a difference - Celustka and Sunderland must ensure they are not caught out on the counter-attack as they were last week at home to Arsenal.

Recent Form: LDWLD

17/08/2013: West Brom 0-1 Southampton (Lambert 90 (pen))

24/08/2013: Everton 0-0 West Brom

27/08/2013: West Brom 3-0 Newport (Berahino 7,26, 38 (pen))

01//09/2013: West Brom 0-2 Swansea City (Davies 22, Hernandez 83)

14/09/2013: Fulham 1-1 West Brom (Sidwell 22; McAuley 90+2)

Last Time Around: West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Sunderland, 23/02/2013

Sunderland's record at The Hawthorns has been miserable of late, and there was little in the way of change the last time these two sides met in the Midlands. With a fresh blanket of late February snow covering the northeast, ardent red and whites set off early in the hope of a rare away victory - only to see their side turn in yet another lackadaisical performance.

Romelu Lukaku was the star man for the Baggies, notching a brace before Stephane Sessegnon's late consolation. First, the Belgian striker rolled home a penalty on 35 minutes after Craig Gardner handled in the box. Then, with the visitors slowly trying to crank up the pressure in the second half, Lukaku profited from a woefully underhit backpass by Titus Bramble. Simon Mignolet was first to the ball, but could do little to stop his clearance ricocheting off his countryman and into the empty net, sealing the points for Steve Clarke's men and hammering another nail into the coffin of Martin O'Neill.

The Ref: Phil Dowd

Phil Dowd has been fairly card happy this term, with just four games yielding 17 yellow cards and one red. Now into his thirteenth season as a league referee, Dowd oversaw Sunderland no fewer than four times last term, with the last being the crucial 1-0 victory at home to Everton in April. The man from Staffordshire also took command of the Black Cats during their losing trips to Liverpool and Norwich City, as well as the home defeat to Middlesbrough in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.

Dowd has yet to referee the Baggies this season either, but he did oversee three games with mixed results for Steve Clarke's men last year. He was in charge for the opening day 3-0 defeat of Liverpool, before then officiating the 0-0 draw at home to West Ham and then the 0-1 away loss at Manchester City.

What The Managers Said

Paolo Di Canio

This will be another important test for us. It's another game with different difficulties to the Arsenal game.

We must never forget that we have to give everything we have from the kick-off against any side, but especially in this game. We need to give our heart and passion, otherwise it will be difficult.

We can get something from the game if we give it our best focus and help each other on the field.

I expect a very good game. I expect us to play well, but more important in this kind of game is heart and desire.

Steve Clarke

It's a squad game. Some players will play and some will be on the bench and some will be out of the squad completely. They all have to make sure [that] if they are selected they are ready to go, as maybe they won't get two chances this year.

I have a big squad of players - I asked for that - and I have to manage them, but they have to be ready when selected.

Nicolas [Anelka's] form, by and large, has been good. He's been okay and he's brought a different dimension to the team. I think it's wrong that people single out Nicolas as 'the name.' He's part of the team that has struggled to create chances. It's not just about Nicolas creating chances and scoring goals. It's about everybody else chipping in.

We have tightened up a bit and now we need to find more creativity going forward. That does not apply just to Nicolas Anelka but everyone in the team to step up to the mark to create more chances and score more goals.

Roker Report Predicts

Given Sunderland's recent record at The Hawthorns, and the sheer inevitability of Stephane Sessegnon having a blinder on his debut, it's not hard to envisage a home win tomorrow. Yet, particularly in the second half last week, there were signs of promise from the red and whites. Should Lee Cattermole start, thus bringing some much needed defensive solidity to the side, we can see a narrow away victory transpiring this weekend.

Paolo Di Canio's comments were taken from www.safc.com. The tactics board used in this article was produced via http://sharemytactics.com.

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