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Big Match Preview: SAFC v WBA

It's here, it's Wear - it's the Roker Report big match preview! Gloatysock returns with another of his videos, plus opinions, stats, facts, manager craic and more.

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Kick Off: Saturday 2nd April, 15:00pm.
Venue: Stadium Of Light, Sunderland.
Last Season: Sunderland 0-0 WBA

These 'must-win' games that we keep talking about are coming thick and fast and, when you look at what lies ahead, you have to think that Sunderland REALLY need to win this match if we are to stay alive.

Norwich and Newcastle face each other tomorrow aswell, meaning we have a real chance of gaining some ground on our relegation rivals should we defeat Tony Pulis' resilient outfit.

The main take from our recent games is that we have shown mental weakness when victory has been within our grasp, and that concerns me. We are clearly good enough to beat most of the teams in this league, but falling apart defensively is costing us time and time again.

Lets be honest, West Brom are safe - and, they aren't coming to score goals. They'll sit deep, look to frustrate us and, when the opportunity presents itself, they'll have Salomon Rondon and Saido Berahino to call upon in front of goal. At the back they have Jonny Evans, a true and solid defender, and in midfield they work hard. They might not be pretty to watch, but they know their task and quite often they'll scrape through games, especially away from home.

We need to see that fighting spirit that has gotten us by on so many occasions at this stage in recent years. We have it in us to do it - falling apart again just is not an option. We need three points.

Match Appointments

Referee: Roger East
Assistants: R West & M Scholes
Fourth Official: J Adcock

Team News

Sunderland

Younes Kaboul, Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri, DeAndre Yedlin and Billy Jones are all available after shaking off their respective problems. Duncan Watmore remains out but is ahead of schedule.

West Brom

Callum McManaman is expected to return to the squad having missed a fair chunk of games recently, whilst this game comes too soon for James Morrison. Chris Brunt remains a long term absentee.

Form

Sunderland: DWLDDD

20 Mar 2016 - Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland
05 Mar 2016 - Southampton 1-1 Sunderland
01 Mar 2016 - Sunderland 2-2 Crystal Palace
27 Feb 2016 - West Ham United 1-0 Sunderland
13 Feb 2016 - Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United
06 Feb 2016 - Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

WBA - LWWDWL

19 Mar 2016 - West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Norwich City
06 Mar 2016 - West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Manchester United
01 Mar 2016 -Leicester City 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
27 Feb 2016 - West Bromwich Albion 3-2 Crystal Palace
13 Feb 2016 - Everton 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
06 Feb 2016 - Newcastle United 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

Fan Focus

This week we give a warm welcome to Mark Thomas from the WBA fan blog 'Albion 'Till We Die' who commented on the ex- Sunderland players currently at his club:

Jonny Evans has been superb this season, he really has been a class act, and you have to wonder why on earth Manchester United let him go. Plenty of eyebrows were raised when we let Joleon Lescott leave for Aston Villa with the intention of replacing him with Evans but thankfully we definitely had by far the best part of that deal.

As for Sessegnon, none of us expected to see him shining in a Tony Pulis side, especially after Pulis had sidelined him earlier in the season, but after working his way back into the team 'Sess' has been a key figure for us with his workrate improving tremendously. He still has games where his contribution is negligible but when he does 'turn it on' he is a class act.

Read more of our interview with Mark here.

Sam's Craic

Younes came on against Crystal Palace because John had an injury, and then he played. He trained yesterday so he’s fit for tomorrow, and it’s a tough one for me.

I’ll try to make the right decision on this particular game for the team. But the one good thing is the lad (Kone) they’re playing alongside has done unbelievable.

His consistent level of performance has been miraculous considering he only joined us in January. He looks like he’s played in the Premier League all his career.

That’s the good thing for us. At the moment, it looks like John and Younes are fighting for the one place, unless we go to a back three.

And that’s excluding Wes Brown, who has done fantastic when he’s stepped in this year. Just before the turn of the year, he did great, so he’s been frustrated as well.

Head To Head

17 Oct 2015 - West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Sunderland
21 Feb 2015 - Sunderland 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
16 Aug 2014 - West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Sunderland
07 May 2014 - Sunderland 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
21 Sep 2013 - West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Sunderland
23 Feb 2013 - West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Sunderland

Stats & Facts

  • Sunderland have exactly the same number of points from 30 Premier League games this season as they had in 2014/15 (26).
  • Jermain Defoe's tally of 12 Premier League goals is his best in a season since 2009/10, in which he scored 18 times for Spurs.
  • West Bromwich Albion side have won just one of their last nine Premier League away games (W1 D4 L4).
  • Salomón Rondón has scored in four of his last six Premier League starts for WBA. Saido Berahino has scored three goals in his last three Premier League appearances against the Black Cats.
  • West Brom have lost just one of their last 12 Barclays Premier League meetings with Sunderland (W8 D3 L1).
  • The Baggies have beaten Sunderland more times in the Premier League than any other team (9).
  • Tony Pulis' side have fired in 87 shots on target this season, fewer than any other top flight club.
  • Salomón Rondón has scored in four of his last six Premier League starts for WBA.

Prediction

This a game that we really need to try and get an early goal in. West Brom are at their best when sitting deep and defending and the last thing we want is to go behind in the first half, because that will most likely ensure we won't be walking away with three points.

That said, West Brom aren't no world beaters, and it's important to remember that they're already safe and their remaining games are for nothing more than pride. We want to hope they aren't as committed as the usually are, and that they are there for the taking - it would be nice if the West Brom side that turned up at St James Park recently is the same one that comes to Wearside on Saturday.

We've looked good going forward recently. I fancy us to win 2-0.