Sunderland Team News
The most pertinent question facing Gus Poyet is whether to persist with both Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore. The Uruguayan has publically pondered the need for balance as well as attacking options, which could see either Fabio Borini or Emanuele Giaccherini replace Fletcher.
Elsewhere, Lee Cattermole is vying for a starting place after returning as a substitute in the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur - which could either free Ki Seung-Yeung up to play further forward or provide more urgency ahead of Ki in that midfield anchor role.
West Ham United Team News
Sam Allardyce will be without the injured Winston Reid, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, Mladen Petric and Ricardo Vaz Te, whilst Kevin Nolan begins his seemingly annual suspension as the festive period looms.
Joe Cole and Ravel Morrison are expected to fill the vacancies left by Downing and Nolan, with Modibo Maiga again leading the line as the lone centre-forward.
Razvan Rat missed the defeat to Liverpool last week with a shoulder injury and, having been left off Allardyce's list of absentees, could well return to left-back in place of former Black Cat George McCartney.
Sunderland: Mannone; Celustka, O'Shea, Brown, Bardsley; Ki; Johnson, Cattermole, Colback, Borini; Altidore
West Ham: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Tomkins, Collins, Rat; Noble, Diame; Jarvis, Morrison, J. Cole; Maiga
Key Matchup: Jozy Altidore vs James Collins
Collins - along with Guy Demel - have missed training this week due to illness, so with the Welshman perhaps not at peak condition, Altidore's strength should give Sunderland a foothold and allow him to bring his midfield team-mates into play.
The former AZ Alkmaar front man has been impressive in recent weeks, and his team will need another strong performance if they are to return from London with a result.
Recent Form: DLLWLL
Draw: West Ham United 0-0 Aston Villa
Loss: Norwich City 3-1 West Ham United (Hooper 54, Snodgrass 72, Fer 90; Morrison 32)
Loss: West Ham United 0-3 Chelsea (Lampard pen 21, 82, Oscar 34)
Win: West Ham United 3-0 Fulham (Diame 47, C. Cole 82, J. Cole 88)
Loss: Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham United (Chamakh 42)
Loss: Liverpool 4-1 West Ham United (Demel og 42, Sahko 47, Suarez 81, 84; Skrtel og 66)
Last Time Around: West Ham United 1-1 Sunderland, 22/09/12
The last meeting between these two sides certainly wasn't one to write home about - as Sunderland took the lead with their only recorded shot on target.
The game also proved to be the last known sighting of Nolan's chicken dance, after a last-minute equaliser had cancelled out Steven Fletcher's opener.
The Ref: Andre Marriner
Just over a month after sending off Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena, the West Midlands-based official takes charge of another Sunderland game.
If you add the two yellows shown to David Vaughan on the final day of last season, Marriner has shown three red cards to Sunderland players in their last four meetings. Hopefully we don't give him reason to add to that tally.
What The Managers Said
We know what we are coming up against and how difficult it will be.
We need to stand up and do the right things all the time, be very strong as a group as well as being brave on the ball and making things difficult for them.
Then, you always have a chance to win.We need to start winning games and we’ve got another opportunity on Saturday.
The big disappointment last week was obviously the Crystal Palace result after such a big result against Fulham so Sunderland is another massive game for us, another massive three points that we need to make sure we stay in touch with the people above us.
That makes it a critical game for both teams.
Both teams need to win, that's what you need to do and I presume that listening to Gus' quotes that's their objective.
They've got to start winning somewhere along the line, as have we, we need to start winning more games.
Roker Report Predicts
With both teams lacking confidence which comes with being at the foot of the table, the one thing we can expect with some certainty is it will be tense.
Should Sunderland have a plan for containing Ravel Morrison, or simply crowd him out when in possession, then the onus will be on them to take the initiative that has been preached about for most of the week. However, with bad luck (to compound some questionable defending) following us around like Donkey from the Shrek films, I'll err on the side of caution and say 1-1.