It wasn’t too long ago that these two sides were sat almost right next to each other in the table, yet Sunderland’s surge in form over recent months means that they have leapt into the higher reaches of the table. Still, West Brom will be more than satisfied with their campaign, with the Baggies having absolutely no worries of relegation as they occupy 14th position.
With eight points keeping West Brom above the drop zone, there is no doubt that their supporters will be absolutely delighted with the way this season has turned out. For many campaigns the Baggies have been used to intense relegation battles, yet Roy Hodgson has steadied the ship at the Hawthorns and some of their supporters may even be holding aspirations of a charge for the top half. There is no doubt that Hodgson’s side will be beaming with confidence following their last result as well, after the Baggies put on an incredibly show to destroy bitter rivals Wolves 5-1 away from home. However, some supporters may approach this game with some caution, with the Hawthorns outfit struggling at home in recent weeks having lost four of their last five there.
Sunderland on the other hand are on an incredible roll and their supporters must be cursing the fact that Martin O’Neill didn’t join at an earlier date. O’Neill has completely transformed the fortunes of the Black Cats and they now occupy a strong top half position in 9th. They were highly unlucky to lose in the last minute to Arsenal in their last league clash, yet they got their revenge at the weekend after recording a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Gunners in the FA Cup. All of this means that the Stadium of Light outfit have lost just two of their last twelve, while their away form is nothing short of exceptional having recorded five victories from their last six games on the road.
As for team news, Paul Scharner is expected to miss out for the home side as he struggles with a rib injury. This should pave the way for Keith Andrews to make his first start for the club, while elsewhere Chris Brunt could feature after successfully recovering from an ankle issue. Sunderland meanwhile look set to be without three players as Wes Brown, David Vaughan and Titus Bramble sit on the treatment table. Martin O’Neill will at least be able to rely on Nicklas Bendtner though, after he recovered from a facial problem.
In terms of a prediction, our tip is going to be for a Sunderland victory. The Black Cats have been rampant away from home in recent weeks, while their opponents have been dreadful at the Hawthorns. Bearing this in mind, we expect a 2-0 win for Martin O’Neill’s side.