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Preview: West Brom v Sunderland
19 Aug 2010 - 13:42:29
Premier League new boys West Bromwich Albion know that success on home soil is of paramount importance this term and, with a test against Sunderland to look forward to on Saturday, they will be striving to get their Premier League campaign back on track after last week's mauling at Chelsea.
Roberto di Matteo cut a forlorn figure in the Stamford Bridge dugout as he watched his men slump to a 6-0 defeat to the ruthless champions and will have his work cut out as he tries to raise confidence at The Hawthorns.
A hat-trick from Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda's brace and a nicely executed finish from Frank Lampard reduced the Baggies to the role of opening-day whipping boys, following last term's promotion from the Championship.
But with home advantage and a partisan crowd cheering them on, it could be a different story this time around.
Di Matteo will be seeking a huge response and, with Graham Dorrans, Jerome Thomas and Chris Brunt likely to be their attacking threats from midfield, they could really do with an early breakthrough against Steve Bruce's Black Cats.
Sunderland may still be licking their wounds after they appeared to be on course to beat Birmingham City last weekend after cruising into a two-goal lead.
Darren Bent's penalty put Sunderland in front before midfielder Lee Cattermole was dismissed for two bookings.
Stephen Carr headed into his own net to send the home fans wild, but the visitors made their numerical advantage count as Scott Dann and Liam Ridgewell ensured the points were shared.
The visitors will be without Republic of Ireland international Andy Reid as he continues to struggle with an Achilles problem, while long-term knee victim David Meyler remains sidelined.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon (broken arm) is still recovering from his injury so Belgian shot-stopper Simon Mignolet will continue between the sticks, while Cattermole is suspended.
Much to di Matteo's delight, the Baggies currently have no injury concerns ahead of the weekend clash.
The last time the teams met in the Premier League was during the 2008-09 campaign. Sunderland will be keen for revenge after their previous visit to The Hawthorns ended with them crashing to a 3-0 defeat.
Goals from Jonas Olsson, Brunt and substitute Juan Carlos Menseguez ensured a comfortable win for the hosts.
Earlier in the season, Sunderland had their own joy as they scored a 4-0 triumph in the north-east. Two goals by Kenwyne Jones midway through the first half put Sunderland in control before Reid added a third before the interval.
Just two minutes after the break, Djibril Cisse ended any slim hopes of an Albion comeback when he notched the fourth goal from the penalty spot.