Tony Pulis takes his Albion side to the Stadium of Light on Saturday look for a second victory on the road this season, while Sunderland are rock bottom of the table still looking for their first points of the Premier League season on their own patch.
Having been 2-0 up with half an hour to go against Crystal Palace last weekend, David Moyes will have thought that points were forthcoming, but Benteke grabbed a winner in stoppage time to complete an impressive Eagles comeback. The Black Cats have lost all three of their home Premier League games this season, with their solitary point coming on the road at Southampton. With Sam Allardyce now looking for a new job once again, you could forgive the Sunderland faithful for wanting to see last season’s miracle worker back in charge at the Stadium of Light.
As for Albion, they followed up the exciting game against the Hammers with a less-than-entertaining encounter at the Bet365 Stadium against Stoke City. Pulis’s 1,000th game did not go the same way as all his previous returns to the Potteries, but thanks to a stoppage time goal from Salomón Rondón, he at least maintained his unbeaten record as a visiting manager in Stoke and also kept the Baggies in the top half of the table.
With the following three games against clubs in the top four, this match could be crucial in maintaining Albion’s position in mid-table in the run up to Christmas. Unfortunately, Pulis’s approach against struggling sides away from home has been less than adventurous in his tenure so far, with Albion’s last two visits to Wearside both cases in point. Both games have finished 0-0 with the visitors registering just one shot on target over the 180 minutes.
This season, however, the statistics suggest that Albion are more attacking. According to whoscored.com, in their six Premier League games this season, Albion have taken 66 shots, 20 of which have been on target, an impressive average (for a TP team) of 3.3 per game, up from last season’s average of 2.8. Still not that impressive, but a 20% increase is not to be sniffed at!
Despite the last two results on Wearside, the Baggies have had more success at the Stadium of Light than at any other away ground in the Premier League losing only two of the nine games and picking up 13 points. Since Albion’s first visit for a Division One match in 1997, if they have scored they have gone home with at least one point, with all four home victories in the fixture since the move from Roker Park being achieved without the visitors troubling the scorers.
In fact, Sunderland are Albion’s favourite Premier League opponents both home and away when it comes to points. The Baggies have managed to clock up 33 points against the Black Cats in the nine seasons when they have both been in the Premier League, which is 11 more than they have achieved against the next best, Everton. That is an average of 1.83 points per game, the highest against any team that Albion have played more than twice in the Premier League. Although Albion have only won one of the last five encounters, they have lost only one of the last thirteen against Sunderland.
The Sunderland home support are concerned. We may have been joking amongst ourselves against West Ham that 4-0 still wasn’t safe, but having thrown away a two goal lead last week and still looking for the first win of the season, there will be nervousness on the terraces irrespective of the scoreline, and Albion need to capitalise on that. It may only be a two-game unbeaten run, but I think that Rondón goal last week was massive and I believe that Albion will build on that to take all three points and improve their already impressive record on Wearside.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
2 Apr 2016 – Premier League
West Brom 0
17 Oct 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Berahino)
Last win at Sunderland
25 Nov 2012 – Premier League
Sunderland 2 (Gardner, Sessègnon)
West Brom 4 (Gera, Long, Lukaku (pen), Gardner (o.g.))
Albion’s Record against Sunderland
|Premier League Record|