There are certain similarities between March and November 2012 if you are a West Brom fan.
Albion defeated Chelsea in the third month of the year to complete their three game winning streak, signalling the end of Andre Villas-Boas' reign. On November 17, Peter Odemwingie seals a 2-1 victory over the European Champions for a third victory in a row, and, the next thing you know, the ruthless Russian Roman Abramovich has dismissed Roberto Di Matteo. The Baggies, under the watchful eye of Steve Clarke, now must make the considerable journey to Wearside, where the Black Cats await. Sunderland have inexplicably been struggling of late, most notably to score – that is until last Sunday. Albeit against 10 men after Brede Hangelaand saw red, the team from the North East were victorious at the Cottage, running out 3-1 winners. Until then, a 1-0 win over Wigan had been all that was provided by Martin O'Neill's men for their fans to shout about. The signings of the nippy Adam Johnson and prolific Steven Fletcher in the summer showed ambition and promised exciting football. With players such as Stephane Sessegnon, James McClean and Seb Larsson already at the club, much was (and is even now) expected. Albion lie fourth, and a victory here would elevate them to third, until Chelsea entertain champions Manchester City on Sunday at least. The Baggies have only one away win so far this season, incidentally in their last outing to the DW stadium, but they will be looking to take advantage of the Mackems' indifferent form of late. Team News Steve Clarke is able to welcome back Gareth McAuley for the trip to the Stadium of Light. The Northern Irish defender returns from a hamstring injury picked up on international duty which kept him out of the Chelsea encounter. Ben Foster may need further surgery which could keep him out till the middle of next month, but replacement Boaz Myhill, who was excellent against Wigan and Chelsea, can continue. Romelu Lukaku is also in the frame after being ineligible against his parent club last week. Martin O'Neill admitted that one or two players picked up knocks in the victory over Fulham, citing them as "doubtful". Craig Gardner is available after serving his one match suspension, while Wes Brown remains the only long-term absentee. Match Facts
- The Baggies like playing the Black Cats, taking ten points in their last four matches played over the last two seasons. - Notable player that has played for both teams: Kevin Phillips - These two normally provide goals when they meet, netting 21 goals between them in their last 6 meetings. - A unique stat now! West Brom and Sunderland were the only teams in the last two years to take points at home from the eventual Premier League champions (WBA drew 2-2 at Old Trafford in 2010/11 while Sunderland drew 3-3 at Eastlands in 2011/12). Prediction I find this quite a hard one to call. The hosts will, of course, be buoyed by their first away win of the season last week - it may be the catalyst to get their season up and running. Albion will struggle to cope with the absence of Youssouf Mulumbu, although Steve Clarke hopes he'll be ok for Swansea on Wednesday. Their counter attacking play is what Sunderland will have to cope with if they're to take the points. Match score: 1-1
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Source: WBA MAD