In terms of starts to the season, Sunderland have had pretty much the worst possible experience imaginable. In the two games that we've looked like winning - Southampton away and Palace at home - we've absolutely gifted our opponents points that they never looked likely to gain, whilst against Everton, Spurs, Manchester City and Middlesbrough we couldn't have made it easier for them from a defensive perspective.
It's glaringly obvious just where Sunderland are struggling, yet we are seemingly doing nothing about it. Despite Patrick Van Aanholt and Papy Djilobodji gifting our opposition goals each and every week they are keeping their places is the side, whilst further forward we keep playing people out of position on the flanks and seemingly favour work rate over flair, as we've seen with Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch constantly preferred to Wahbi Khazri, who can't even get off the bench at a time when we are crying out for creativity.
We're reaching a point now where Moyes has to bite the bullet and change the script slightly. Whatever his vision has been this season, it isn't working, and his team need some fresh perspective in order to kick on. That of course means that Moyes may well need to change up his system and starting eleven this weekend in order to see if we can successfully win the game, with the likes of John O'Shea and Wahbi Khazri pushing for starts having returned to fitness.
We know very well about what a Tony Pulis West Brom side can do to you. Last year they needed a point to hit their target for survival when they rocked up on Wearside and they were almost impossible to break down, arriving here with the intention of walking away with a point. As you'll remember, they did just that. This weekend though I think we'll see a slightly different West Brom side - at this stage of the season they'll see a game against Sunderland as a potential scalp, and with Nacer Chadli and Salomon Rondon playing well they'll almost certainly create chances. Our defence simply HAS to turn up, otherwise we'll be sat here again wondering where the next win is coming from.
As I said earlier this week on the site, we as a football club have to stick together to make sure we get out of this mess, and that starts this weekend. All of us, from the players to the manager to the supporters, need to go in to the West Brom game with a more positive mindset, as hard as that seems. The only way things improve with David Moyes as manager is if we get behind the team at the weekend and create an environment that has been sorely lacking at the Stadium of Light for some time. It's clear we struggle at home, and that should never be the case.
Some Interesting Stats
Sunderland have scored 1 goal or less in 11 of their last 20 home games, going on to win 0, draw 3 and lose 8 of these matches. West Brom have scored 1 goal or less in 17 of their last 20 away games, going on to win 4, draw 5 and lose 8 of these matches. It's fair to say that the smart money would be on this game to be under 2.5 goals.
In what seems to have become a regular feature of David Moyes' press conference he delivered us fresh injury news, telling us that Lee Cattermole, Stephen Pienaar, Adnan Januzaj and Victor Anichebe will all miss tomorrow's game. Lovely.
This of course opens up a number of places in the team, particularly in midfield - will Wahbi Khazri finally start? Who knows. If he doesn't, it tells you all that you need to know about his relationship with the manager.
Pickford, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Manquillo, Rodwell, Kirchhoff, Ndong, Gooch, Watmore, Defoe.
Speaking today in his press conference about injuries, Moyes said:
We have a few injuries this week; Steven Pienaar pulled up with a hamstring injury last weekend - I don't think it's too severe but it'll be enough to miss the game – with Adnan and Lee Cattermole out as well.
Lee has neuro pain pain coming from his spine and down his leg, so we expect him to get an epidural today [Friday] or certainly over the weekend.
Januzaj's injury is a blow because he'd done well in a couple of games and looked as if he was finding a bit of form. He's a really creative player for us and we need him.
Januzaj 'looked as if he was finding a bit of form', apparently.
I'm extremely worried about this game, mainly because I know how hard West Brom can make it for us to beat them. If we set up in a positive manner and play John O'Shea then I'll have a little more faith that we can at least defend better, but this game just has 0-0 draw or 1-0 West Brom from a corner written all over it.