After a magnificent rare home victory over Manchester United the lads were rewarded with a warm climate recuperation trip to Dubai. It's safe to assume that there's feel good factor around the squad at the moment, with things seemingly clicking into place on the pitch.
Winning on Saturday would be absolutely massive in terms of the rest of the season, especially considering that we play out-of-form Crystal Palace on Tuesday. A win tomorrow could, in relative terms, provide the bounce we need to survive.
Back in East London, the Hammers will be feeling pretty good themselves after they comfortably dispatched Blackburn last Sunday in the FA Cup. Even though they've suffered injuries recently to a number of top players the strength in depth that West Ham have is a massive factor is why they're enjoying such a superb season. Although West Ham certainly are not unbeatable, they've been one of this season's best performers in the Premier League, and you can rest assured that Slaven Bilic won't be happy with anything other than a win against a team that, although in decent form, are still second bottom in the table.
Kick Off: Saturday February 27th 2016, 12:45pm
Venue: Upton Park
Last Season: 1-0
Odds: H: 16/19 A: 19/5 D: 31/11
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: J Brooks & S Long
Fourth Official: M Jones
Apart from Duncan Watmore and Jeremain Lens who both remain sidelined, Sunderland can boast a fully fit squad.
The Black cats welcome back Seb Larsson who returns to the squad after a three month lay off. Younes Kaboul, Jan Kirchhoff and Billy Jones have recovered well from minor injuries over the two week break and are expected to be a part of tomorrow's matchday squad.
After beating Manchester United in our last outing, it's fully expected that Sam Allardyce will name as close to an unchanged side as he can.
Cheikhou Kouyate remains available for selection after having his red card picked up in the Blackburn game overturned.
Enner Valencia, Andy Carroll and Winston Reid have all recovered from injuries in time for the game, and Slaven Bilic has a number of selection headaches with some important players back fit.
Sunderland - WLDLDW
13 Feb 2016 - Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United
06 Feb 2016 - Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland
02 Feb 2016 - Sunderland 0-1 Manchester City
23 Jan 2016 - Sunderland 1-1 AFC Bournemouth
16 Jan 2016 - Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Sunderland
13 Jan 2016 - Swansea City 2-4 Sunderland
West Ham United - WLDWLW
13 Feb 2016 - Norwich City 2-2 West Ham United
06 Feb 2016 - Southampton 1-0 West Ham United
02 Feb 2016 - West Ham United 2-0 Aston Villa
23 Jan 2016 - West Ham United 2-2 Manchester City
16 Jan 2016 - Newcastle United 2-1 West Ham United
12 Jan 2016 - AFC Bournemouth 1-3 West Ham United
This week's Fan Focus welcomes Stuart Plant from Iron Views. He had this to say on Big Sam's return to Upton Park:
I've got a feeling he's going to get some serious stick. But he categorically shouldn't. He did everything that was needed. Yes, one of those seasons was a 'throw away' season which was horrific, and our form in the second half of last season was absolutely gutless because of him. But does he deserve the abuse he's most likely going to get? No.
Part of me hopes he gets a mixed response, because that would be what he deserves.
Read more of our interview with here.
Sam Allardyce on Dubai:
From experience, taking players to Dubai in the warm-weather training scenario, the players will come back much more capable, much more eager to overcome the position and try to get better results.
It certainly gives everyone enough time physically to recover and recuperate mentally.
We will certainly see a performance where the players have enough energy to win the game.
Lens has had the surgery and he's recovering well. He could be available for Southampton.
There's only Jeremain Lens and Duncan Watmore who are missing. Jan's injury wasn't too serious. It was just a twinge more than a pull. That's recovered well. Seb's back with us now after what's been a long wait - it's been five or six weeks longer than we expected.
Younes had a setback when he got fit, and then twisted his ankle, but he's back now. Billy Jones is alright after his hip.
This Season's Reverse Fixture
Last Season's Corresponding Fixture
Head To Head
03 Oct 2015 - Sunderland 2-2 West Ham United
21 Mar 2015 - West Ham United 1-0 Sunderland
13 Dec 2014 - Sunderland 1-1 West Ham United
31 Mar 2014 - Sunderland 1-2 West Ham United
14 Dec 2013 - West Ham United 0-0 Sunderland
12 Jan 2013 - Sunderland 3-0 West Ham United
22 Sep 2012 - West Ham United 1-1 Sunderland
22 May 2011 - West Ham United 0-3 Sunderland
05 Dec 2010 - Sunderland 1-0 West Ham United
Stats & Facts
- West Ham have only lost one of their last seven games against Sunderland, although four have been drawn (W2, D4).
- The Hammers have won seven and lost just one of the last 10 Premier League home games against the Black Cats.
- Sunderland's last win away to West Ham was a 3-0 victory in May 2011.
West Ham United
- The Hammers are unbeaten in their last 12 home games in all competitions (W7, D5).
- Victory would give West Ham their highest total of points after 27 Premier League games.
- West Ham have conceded 61% of their goals before half-time - the highest proportion in this season's Premier League.
- Dimitri Payet has scored or set up 12 Premier League goals this season - twice as many as any other West Ham player.
- Sam Allardyce's side have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 13 league and cup games, conceding a total of 27 goals.
- Sunderland have allowed their opponents 158 shots on target against them this season, more than any other team in the top flight.
- The Black Cats have conceded seven Premier League penalties this term - the joint-highest figure, along with Norwich.
- Sunderland could score in nine consecutive top-flight away matches for the first time since a run of 10 in a row from April to October 1956.
This is a really tough game, and both teams look confident and capable of winning at the moment.
Sam has shown in the past that he'll go places looking to draw as opposed to win, but the main worry with this game has to be that West Ham are just so good at home and we ultimately struggle to keep clean sheets. Both sides have attackers in fine form, and that coupled with the fact that both sides really need to continue to win games in order to secure their goals for the season should mean we're going to get a really open, flowing, end-to-end game.
I'd be overjoyed with a point, and I'm expecting goals, so I'm going for 2-2.