SUNDERLAND v WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Barclays Premier League
Saturday 21st February 2015,
Stadium of Light
Following last Saturday's superb FA Cup display
against West Ham United, attention this weekend returns to the Premier League
Albion travel to Wearside looking to build on the club's recent good form. The
Baggies take on a Sunderland side who have come under-fire from their own
support recently following a number of poor results, the mood around the
Stadium of Light being bad enough to persuade Black Cats' boss Gus Poyet to pen
an 'open letter' to fans pleading for unity.
In complete contrast to Poyet's and Sunderland's
problems, Tony Pulis' men go into the game on the back of the club's best
all-round performance for quite some time. Whilst the national media predictably
focused on West Ham's shortcomings, anyone that saw the match would have been
impressed with the complete dominance shown by the Baggies. With Joleon Lescott
and Gareth McAuley marshalling a solid back four, James Morrison and Craig
Gardner pulling the strings in midfield, and the ever-dangerous duo of Saido
Berahino and Brown Ideye up front, Albion were totally deserving of their four
goal victory, and infact, the Hammers could have had no complaints if Pulis'
side had added another goal or two to the total.
The key figure in the victory over West Ham, and
indeed the win against Swansea City in the club's previous game, was undoubtedly
the re-born Ideye. The first six months of his Albion career left everyone
scratching their heads wondering how on earth we had ended up paying a reported
£10million for the player. He had shown absolutely nothing to suggest he was
going to be anything but a failure at The Hawthorns, and a costly one at that.
However, one goal against Burnley has seemingly turned his Baggies' career
around with his performances in the last two games being nothing short of fantastic. With
pace, power and skill, the Nigerian striker has led the front line superbly, and
in the process taking heaps of pressure off his striker partner Saido Berahino,
who himself has looked better with the rejuvenated Ideye alongside him.
In midfield the recalled Craig Gardner had possibly
his best game for the club and Pulis must now decide whether to bring recent
signing and newly appointed club captain Darren Fletcher back into the fold. It
would be harsh on Gardner if he finds himself sidelined once more, especially
given he would be relishing the chance to face his former club. The smart money
has to be on Fletcher returning though, and to be fair the former United man was
excellent in the club's win over Swansea, giving a true leader's display,
perhaps reminiscent of the way another Scotsman - Derek McInnes, used to lead
the side back in the days of Gary Megson. Continually motivating the players
around him and barking out instructions throughout, Fletcher looks like he could
become the leader we have been craving for far too long.
Whilst Gardner will be hoping to face his previous
side, another player hoping to figure against his former club is Black Cats'
right-back Billy Jones. A popular figure amongst the Albion support, it was
disappointing to see him leave the club during last summer although at the time
questions were raised about his fitness record, and true to form the former
Crewe right-back has suffered an injury-hit season.
As for the game itself, if
the Baggies can grab an early goal it will be difficult for Sunderland to get
back into the game given our form under Pulis. Sunderland will be hoping the
influential duo of Jermain Defoe and Lee Cattermole are fit for the game with
both currently rated as doubtful. The absence of Defoe in particular would be
good news for Albion with the former England striker having a good scoring
record against the Baggies over the years. However, even if the pair do play,
Albion, with their newly found confidence do have enough to at least take a point
from the game.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Albion
game will be the 152nd competitive meeting between
Albion and Sunderland. The Black Cats currently have 57 wins to their name
compared to the Baggies' 53.
The last time Albion played a game on this date
came in 2010, the Baggies suffering a 2-1 defeat against Bristol City at Ashton
Gate. The club's last win on February 21 came in 2004 when goals from Darren
Moore and Thomas Gaardsoe gave a Gary Megson-led side a 2-1 win over Sheffield
United at Bramall Lane.
Sunderland's last game on this date came in 2009
when the Black Cats played out a 0-0 draw with Arsenal in a Premier League clash
at the Emirates Stadium.
won more games (8),
won more points (28), and scored
more goals (29), against Sunderland than any other club in Premier League competition.
Ten of the last twelve league meetings between the sides have
produced a minimum of three goals.
Stephane Sessegnon has scored in three of his last
four starts in this fixture - twice for Sunderland and once for Albion.
Sunderland have won just two of their last 14
Premier League games at the Stadium of Light (W2 D6 L6).
Albion's last six games:
West Ham United (H, FAC) 4-0; Swansea City (H) 2-0; Burnley (A) 2-2;
Tottenham Hotspur (H) 0-3; Birmingham City (A, FAC)
2-1; Everton (A) 0-0.
Sunderland's last six games:
Bradford City (A, FAC) 0-2; Queens Park Rangers (H) 0-2; Swansea City (A) 1-1;
Fulham (A, FAC) 3-1; Burnley (H) 2-0; Fulham (H, FAC) 0-0.
Baggies' boss Tony Pulis has an almost fully fit
squad to choose from for the trip to Wearside with only Victor Anichebe ruled
Darren Fletcher returns after being cup-tied
against West Ham whilst Jonas Olsson is available again following a lengthy lay
off due to his Achilles injury. Youssouf Mulumbu could also figure after
returning from African Cup of Nations duty although after suffering a hamstring
injury at the tournament he may not yet be risked.
Black Cats' boss Gus Poyet has a
number of injury worries ahead of the Stadium of Light clash.
Jermaine Defoe (calf), Emanuele
Giaccherini (illness), Will Buckley and Lee Cattermole (both knee), Jack Rodwell
(groin) and Anthony Reveillere (hamstring) are all doubts although Poyet is
hopeful that a number of them will be fit enough to feature.
Albion Win: 9/5, Sunderland Win: 7/4, Draw:
Berahino 6/1, Ideye 13/2, McManaman 9/1, Sessegnon 9/1, Gardner 12/1, Morrison
16/1, Brunt 20/1, Dawson 25/1, McAuley 25/1, Fletcher 28/1, Lescott 28/1, Yacob
Sunderland: Defoe 5/1, Fletcher 6/1, Wickham 13/2,
Graham 7/1, Johnson 8/1, Alvarez 9/1, Giaccherini 10/1, Gomez 11/1, Rodwell
12/1, Buckley 12/1, Larsson 14/1, Cattermole 25/1, Van Aanholt 25/1, Vergini
28/1, Jones 33/1, Coates 33/1.
No goalscorer: 13/2.
Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Jones has taken charge of just one Albion game so
far this season - the 2-1 defeat against West Ham United at The Hawthorns in
The Cheshire official last took charge of a
Sunderland game back in February of last year - their 2-0 defeat at home to Hull
Jones has handed out 77 yellow cards and six red in
the 22 games he has refereed so far this season.
Albion were allocated an initial
1,500 tickets for the game priced at £29 adults, £19 seniors/over 65s and £10
under-16s. Tickets will be available at the Stadium of Light up until kick-off
at cash-only turnstile number 70.
Sunny spells and light showers, 6°C.
Albion first met Sunderland in May 1890
in a friendly game on Wearside which the Baggies won 5-3.
The first competitive meeting of the two sides came four
months later at Stoney Lane. Sunderland, in their first season of Football
League competition, travelled back up to the North East with two points
following a 4-0 victory. Scottish international Jimmy Millar scored two of
the visitors' goals.
The Baggies wouldn't record a league victory over Sunderland until the
13th meeting between the sides, Jack Cameron scoring the only goal of the
game in a 1-0 win at Stoney Lane in November 1896.
best league victory over the Black Cats is a 6-4 win at The Hawthorns in
February 1937. The Baggies have also registered a 6-5 win at The Hawthorns in
March 1934, a 5-1 win in December 1932, again in West Bromwich and another 5-1
victory, this time at Roker Park on New Year's Day 1966.
Sunderland's best victory over
Albion came at Newcastle Road in October 1892 when Johnny Campbell hit a
hat-trick in an 8-1 stroll for the defending league champions. Sunderland would
go on to retain the title at the end of the season.
Other big wins for Sunderland
include 7-1 on Wearside in January 1896 and three 6-1 victories, the first on
Wearside in September 1935, the second one at The Hawthorns in October 1937, and
finally again at Roker Park in February 1977.
Albion have a very good record
against Sunderland in the Premier League, losing just three of the fifteen
meetings between the clubs.
The Baggies have also lost just
one of the last ten games between the sides, winning seven and drawing two.
A full fixture history between the two teams can be found here
(Click on game to view)
Saturday 21 August 2010 - Albion 1-0 Sunderland - Premier League - The Hawthorns
Saturday 25 April 2009 - Albion 3-0 Sunderland - Premier League - The Hawthorns
Saturday 17 September 2005 - Sunderland 1-1 Albion - Premier League - Stadium of Light
Sunday 18 April 2004 - Sunderland 0-1 Albion - League Division One - Stadium of Light
Saturday 19 April 2003 - Sunderland 1-2 Albion - Premier League - Stadium of Light
Saturday 5 January 2002 - Sunderland 1-2 Albion - FA Cup 3rd Round - Stadium of Light
Saturday 8 October 1994 - Albion 1-3 Sunderland - League Division One - The
Saturday 5 February 1994 - Albion 2-1 Sunderland - League Division One - The
LAST MEETING AT THE STADIUM OF LIGHT
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday 7 May 2014,
Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso; Johnson (Bridcutt 61), Larsson, Cattermole (Giaccherini
88), Colback, Borini; Wickham (Altidore 61). Subs not used: Ustari (gk),
Bardsley, Ba, Scocco.
Goalscorers: Colback 13,
Albion: Foster; Reid
(Dawson HT), McAuley, Lugano, Brunt (c); Berahino (Vydra 78), Yacob (Mulumbu
HT), Morrison, Dorrans; Sessegnon; Anichebe. Subs not used: Myhill (gk),
Sinclair, Olsson, O’Neil.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Gus Poyet got his miracle as
Sunderland ensured their continued presence in the Barclays Premier League with
a comfortable 2-0 victory over West Brom. Just weeks after admitting they needed
divine intervention when they slipped seven points off the survival pace, the
46-year-old Uruguayan saw his team secure a fourth successive top-flight win for
the first time since December 2000 to end their fears. The win means 18th-placed
Norwich have only a purely mathematical chance of avoiding relegation as the
season draws to a close on Sunday.
Jack Colback's third goal of the
season got the home side off to the perfect start when he turned Marcos Alonso's
near-post cross past goalkeeper Ben Foster. But Sunderland were cruising 18
minutes later when Fabio Borini volleyed home his ninth of the campaign to give
the home side breathing space. Neither goalscorer may remain at the Stadium of
Light next season with Colback out of contract and being linked with derby
and Borini wanted back at Liverpool after a hugely successful loan spell. But if
their goals prove to be their last meaningful contributions - Poyet has hinted
talks with Colback could yet be reopened - they could not have been any more
timely. The Stadium of Light was rocking as the bulk of a crowd of 45,181
celebrated the great escape as if it were the trophy the club came so close to
securing in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley in March. Sunderland could even
afford a glaring miss from substitute Jozy Altidore, who steered a 65th-minute
shot wide with the goal at his mercy as a chance to kill off a resurgent West
Brom came and went. But for all the visitors made a game of it in the second
half after a tepid first 45 minutes, they rarely looked like denying their hosts
three more points to go with the 10 they had garnered from their last four games
against Manchester City, Chelsea, Cardiff and Manchester United.
Poyet's men had manoeuvred
themselves into a position of strength, albeit a precarious one, by virtue of an
unlikely sequence of results, and they ran out knowing a point would be enough
to leave the Canaries needing to beat Arsenal handsomely on Sunday and hope the
Black Cats lost heavily at home to Swansea to eradicate a goal difference
deficit of 13. However, having dealt in unexpected twists for much of the
season, the head coach was not prepared to leave anything to chance and sent his
players out under orders to seal their own fate. They could hardly have
responded to Poyet's pleas any more emphatically as they took the game by the
scruff of the neck and raced into a potentially decisive lead with barely half
an hour gone. Colback needed just 13 minutes to set the ball rolling, turning up
on cue to stab Marcos Alonso's low cross past Ben Foster after Sebastian Larsson
had slipped away from Claudio Yacob in midfield and picked out the full-back
wide on the left. Confidence coursed through red and white veins as Sunderland,
once again led admirably by midfield enforcer Lee Cattermole, dominated. A
surging break out of defence and slide-rule pass from the former
Wigan man allowed Adam Johnson to deliver a dangerous 23rd-minute
cross which Steven Reid had to hack away.
But as Reid and fellow full-back
found themselves repeatedly under pressure, the Black Cats were relentless and
extended their lead with 31 minutes gone. Larsson was once again the instigator
with a delicate lofted pass to pick out Borini, who volleyed first-time past the
advancing Foster to make it 2-0. The Baggies offered little as an attacking
force in return, and it was not until injury time the home goalkeeper Vito
Mannone was called upon to make a meaningful save when he pushed away Saido
West Brom boss Pepe Mel
attempted to shore up his team at the break, replacing Reid with Craig Dawson
and Yacob with Youssouf Mulumbu, and they immediately had a more compact and
coherent look to them. They came close to dragging themselves back into the game
when striker Victor Anichebe only just failed to connect with
driven cross as he slid in. Poyet replaced Johnson and lone striker Connor
Wickham with Liam Bridcutt and Jozy Altidore with 61 minutes as he looked to
consolidate, but with the visitors pressing, it was Black Cats old boy Stephane
Sessegnon who dragged a shot wide two minutes later. Altidore somehow missed the
target when it seemed easier to convert Colback's 65th-minute cross and
full-back Santiago Vergini smashed a shot across the face of goal four minutes
later, but the points - and safety - were already secure.
Stéphane Sessègnon became
Albion's record signing when he moved to The Hawthorns in a £6million deal in September 2013. He
joined from Sunderland where he had spent two and a half years.
Baggies' midfielder Craig Gardner started
his career at Aston Villa, making his first team debut in 2005. The Solihull-born
player joined Birmingham City in January 2010 but following the club's
relegation from the Premier League 18 months later he left for Sunderland in a
reported £6 million deal. He moved to The Hawthorns on a 'Bosman' free in May
Sunderland defender Billy Jones joined the
Black Cats from Albion in the summer of 2014 after his contract at The Hawthorns
had expired. He had joined the Baggies in June 2011 from Preston North End.
Amongst the players to have turned out at various levels for
both clubs are: Jack Allan, Sam Allardyce, Mark Angel, Brett Angell, Peter Barnes,
Jack Boyd, Darren Carter, Frank Cresswell, Shaun Cunnington, Andy Dibble, Danny Dichio,
Tony Ford, Carsten Fredgaard, Marton Fulop, Sid Glidden, Tommy Glidden, Don Goodman, Bernt
Haas, Jimmy Hamilton, Danny Hegan, Jim Holton, Bobby Hope, Kevin Kilbane,
Andy Marriott, Archie McKenzie, Sandy McNab,
Paul McShane, Jimmy Millar, Joe Murphy, John Nevin, Jimmy Nicholl, Kevin
Phillips, Kieran Richardson, Barry Siddall, Colin Suggett, Billy Thompson, Stanislav Varga,
Geoff Wardle, Ike Webb, Colin West and John Wile.
Denis Smith managed both Albion and Sunderland;
Malcolm Crosby was Smith's assistant at both clubs and also had a
spell as the Black Cats' boss; Former Albion assistant manager Frank
Burrows had a spell coaching at Sunderland; Former Baggies' boss
Brian Little had trials as a player at
Sunderland; Former Black Cats' coach Steve Walford
spent a short spell on loan at The Hawthorns during the 1988/89 season.
ALL-TIME LEAGUE & CUP RECORD VS SUNDERLAND
TEN MATCHES AGAINST SUNDERLAND
Sat 16 Aug 2014
Berahino 2 (1 pen) - Cattermole, Larsson
07 May 2014
21 Sep 2013
23 Feb 2013
(1 pen) - Sessegnon
Sat 24 Nov 2012
Long, Lukaku (pen), Fortuné - Gardner, Sessegnon
Sat 25 Feb 2012
Odemwingie 2, Morrison, Andrews
Sat 01 Oct 2011
Long - Bendtner, Elmohamady
Sat 09 Apr 2011
Mulumbu, Scharner - Shorey (og), Bardsley
Sat 21 Aug 2010
Sat 25 Apr 2009