Play-off spot in sight as Baggies welcome Black Cats

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland; The Hawthorns, Saturday 13th April 2024, 3pm

With just four games to go in the regular season, Albion are in a strong position to secure a play-off place and they could be all but there should they defeat Sunderland at the Hawthorns on Saturday. The Black Cats have endured something of a turbulent season having been as high as fourth in October before Tony Mowbray and his replacement, Michael Beale, were both sacked leaving Mike Dodds in caretaker charge until the end of the season.

In isolation, Sunderland’s performance to earn a point at Elland Road on Tuesday evening was promising, but it is only the sixth point that the Black Cats have picked up from their last eleven matches, albeit all six of those points have come in their last five games. Given the run of six straight defeats that preceded it, there has been something of an upturn since the middle of March, including a 2-0 win at Cardiff, but three goalless draws a 5-1 home defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers don’t offer too much solace to their suffering fans.

Unlike Rotherham United, however, the Mackems will be out in force at the Hawthorns and will certainly contribute to a better atmosphere than we endured on Wednesday evening. Furthermore, despite their recent form, they will offer a sterner test than the Millers did and it is unlikely to be a straightforward victory. Top scorer, Jack Clarke, is fit again having missed six games with an ankle injury while the younger Bellingham, Jobe, has seven goals to his name this season and is likely to resume his role as a false nine at the Hawthorns.

One player that Albion fans will remember is defender Dan Ballard whose foul on Josh Maja in the return fixture resulted in his extended injury absence, and having not received the red card he deserved, he went on to score Sunderland’s opener. I feel he may get a less-than-friendly welcome at the Hawthorns.

Corberán revealed on Friday that Maja would not be involved in Saturday’s game, instead being given a longer stretch of playing time for the U21s on Friday evening. He was only involved on Wednesday due to Jed Wallace’s illness and, with the skipper fit again for the weekend, the Albion boss feels more minutes at a lower level will prepare his striker better for the final few games of the season and the hoped-for play-off campaign.

It will be interesting to see whether the usual midfield two are in the starting line up – I was not overly impressed with M’Vila but Corberán seemed to think that his teammates didn’t make the runs he needed to make the best use of his talents. I imagine they will have been working more on that this week, but I’m expecting Okay and Mowatt to line up tomorrow! I would also be surprised anything other than the regular back four to start the match, irrespective of how well Adam Reach may have played against Rotherham.

In attack, the newly-crowned Championship Player of the Month for March, Mikey Johnston, will surely start and I think we’ll see Wallace on the right and Diangana behind BTA. Then again, Corberán is not afraid of surprising us all, so who knows?

Ultimately, it is all about the thee points and, should Albion get them, I feel it would take a minor miracle for them to be denied a top six spot. Albion have been below their best for a few weeks now – it is time for them to rediscover their true selves and grasp the opportunity that is in front of them.


Albion’s record against Sunderland has been pretty good in recent years, at least until the last two meetings. When Tony Mowbray’s team won at the Hawthorns in April last year, it not only ended the Baggies’ thirteen match unbeaten home record but also brought a run of seven unbeaten against the Black Cats. In fact, Albion had lost only one of the previous sixteen meetings with the Wearsiders, a streak that started with a 3-0 Premier League victory at the Hawthorns in April 2009.

Saturday will be the 160th meeting between the clubs with the first coming way back in September 1890 when Sunderland won 4-0 at Stoney Lane, and followed it up with a 5-2 win on their next visit. The Wearsiders had only been admitting to the Football League that season and went on to win the title in their second, third and fifth seasons of league football. In their first five meetings with the Throstles, they scored 22 goals, conceding 3, with Albion picking up just one point at Sunderland’s Newcastle Road ground in November 1890. Albion finally earned their first victory over Sunderland at the 13th attempt, a 1-0 win at Stoney Lane in November 1896.

Both club experienced a dip in the early seventies and dropped to the second tier, Sunderland in 1970 and Albion three years later, but the Black Cats managed to win the FA Cup from the second division in 1973 but then were a year later returning to the top flight than the Baggies. In their first season back, Sunderland did the league double over Albion including a 3-2 win at the Hawthorns in April 1977 when Tony Towers scored twice with Bob Lee scoring the visitors’ other goal – Laurie Cunningham and David Cross were on the scoresheet for the Baggies.

Sunderland returned to the top flight after an absence of two seasons but were relegated again in 1985 with the Baggies following them a year later. The clubs’ last meeting in the old Division One was in April 1985 when Nicky Cross scored the only goal of the game in front of a mere 7,381 spectators at the Hawthorns.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion W W D D D W
Sunderland L D W L D D

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

9 Dec 2023 – League Championship
Sunderland 2 (Ballard, Neil)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Thomas-Asante)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

22 Apr 2023 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Swift (pen))
Sunderland 2 (Cirkin (2))

Last win

12 Dec 2022 – League Championship
Sunderland 1 (Diallo (pen))
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Rogic, Dike)

Last win at the Hawthorns

21 Jan 2017 – Premier League
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Fletcher, Brunt)
Sunderland 0

Albion’s Record against Sunderland

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 155 52 44 59 223 263   77 39 19 19 143 103
FA Cup 4 4 0 0 10 4   2 2 0 0 6 2
Total 159 56 44 59 233 267   79 41 19 19 149 105


  Premier League Record
  Pld W D L F A Pts
Home 10 7 2 1 20 6 23
Away 10 3 5 2 13 15 14
Total 20 10 7 3 33 21 37

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