Preview: West Brom v Sunderland

by Kate Smith looks ahead to Saturday's trip to the Midlands (KO 3pm).

Steven Fletcher will look to continue his fine Barclays Premier League record against West Bromwich Albion as the Black Cats travel to the Hawthorns on Saturday.

The Scottish international, who made his first start in over five months last weekend, notched three goals in three appearances against the Baggies during his time at Wolves.

Steve Clarke’s side have their own thorn in Sunderland’s defence in former France international Nicolas Anelka – the former Chelsea man has seven goals in his ten league games against the Black Cats.

Saturday’s match could blow recent statistics out of the window with six of the Black Cats’ last nine matches seeing fewer than three goals netted overall. However, only once in the last eight meetings between these two sides has the match ended with less than three goals.

Paolo Di Canio’s side will look to prolong West Brom’s recent defensive woes at the Hawthorns with Clarke’s side conceding a total of 14 goals in their last six home league matches.

The hosts have doubts over Shane Long and Matej Vydra whilst Ben Foster, George Thorne and Zoltan Gera are longer term absentees.

Di Canio will welcome back Emanuele Giaccherini and John O’Shea with the pair returning from injury and suspension respectively.

Saturday’s match will be the 149th meeting between the two sides with Sunderland edging the head-to-head record with 56 wins compared to West Brom’s 52 successes, whilst there have been 40 draws.