Stephane Sessegnon

Preview: Sunderland v WBA

by Kate Smith

A look ahead to Saturday's game (KO 12.45pm)

Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion meet for the 147th time in all competitions this weekend as the Baggies visit the Stadium of Light.

Steve Clarke's side have enjoyed an excellent start to the season and currently sit fourth in the Barclays Premier League following a 10th-place finish last time around.

The Midlands outfit have banked 23 points from 12 games, buoyed by a home record which has seen them win six of seven league outings, losing just once.

Meanwhile they have won one, drawn two and lost two of their five away league encounters so far, scoring five goals and conceding eight.

Clarke has continued the steady progress made at The Hawthorns after succeeding Roy Hodgson following the veteran coach's decision to take the England job.

Last weekend's win over Chelsea was Albion's third in succession following victories at home to Southampton (2-0) and away at Wigan (2-1).

Their last defeat came in the north east as Newcastle ran out 2-1 winners at St James' Park last month despite the visitors putting in an excellent performance.

Albion took four of the six points available against Sunderland last season, starting with a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light.

James Morrison and Shane Long put the away side 2-0 ahead inside five minutes, but goals from loanee Nicklas Bendtner and Ahmed Elmohamady secured a draw for the Black Cats.

However, Albion were comfortable winners in the reverse fixture as an early goal from Peter Odemwingie sparked a comfortable 4-0 win.

Sunderland's last victory over West Brom came at the Stadium of Light in December 2008, also by a 4-0 margin.

Martin O'Neill's men go into the game in good heart following last weekend's win at Fulham – their first away league success of the campaign.

Steven Fletcher, Carlos Cuellar and Stephane Sessegnon also netted, with the former taking his goal tally to six for the season with a fine finish.

Meanwhile Cuellar and Sessegnon both notched their first goals of the campaign, with Cuellar's close-range header seeing him open his goalscoring account from the club following a summer move from Aston Villa.

The victory moved O'Neill's men on to 12 points and they will be looking to make the most of an extended spell of home matches with four out of their next five outings at the Stadium of Light.

Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole both returned from injury at Fulham and Craig Gardner is available again following a one-match suspension.

Opta Facts:

  • Steven Fletcher has scored three goals in two Premier League appearances against the Baggies.
  • Peter Odemwingie has netted four goals in four Premier League appearances against the Black Cats
  • There have been four goals scored inside the opening 10 minutes of the last three Premier League meetings between Sunderland and West Brom – three of those by the Baggies.
  • West Brom have won just two of their last 11 Premier League away games (W2 D4 L5), but earned all three points in their last road trip to Wigan.
  • WBA have not won four top-flight league games in a row since October 1980.