ALBION have all-but secured top-flight safety this season still with two games remaining, and ahead of their midweek clash, the guys over at football stats website WhoScored.com
have previewed the clash.
If it was not for the recent form of both the Baggies and Sunderland, tonight’s Stadium of Light encounter might well have been a six-pointer in the battle against the drop, but Pepe Mel’s men are safe - barring a vast and nigh-on impossible swing in goal difference.
There will still be motivation to go for the win and aim to finish as high up the table as possible.
Defeats at the Etihad and the Emirates were rendered insignificant given wins over Norwich and West Ham and draws with Spurs and Cardiff in recent weeks, and so Albion's form should generate confidence that another victory is obtainable in the upcoming clash.
What is more, the Baggies have won seven of their last eight matches against Sunderland, last failing to win when they drew in 2011.
That means Albion have won each of their last four clashes with the Black Cats, and each of those wins have been rather comfortable, with the Baggies taking a lead in at half time and holding onto it until full time on each occasion.
They have also netted at least twice in each of their last six encounters with Sunderland.
As this record stretches back so far, it is not restricted to home games.
In fact, Albion have won two and drawn the other of their last three trips to the Stadium of Light, scoring a total of nine goals.
All of this points towards another good day for the Baggies in midweek.
Among the changes Pepe Mel has made during his reign has been the inclusion on a more regular basis of Graham Dorrans in the starting XI.
The versatile midfielder has played both wide and centrally under the Spaniard, and to great effect, scoring twice in Albion's recent run of form, against Cardiff and Manchester City.
Diligent and hard-working but also skilled and threatening going forwards, Dorrans is a vital asset to Mel's team.
Technically, he is brilliant, and he has developed a WhoScored.com strength of 'taking set pieces' as a result of his delivery into the box from corners and free-kicks, for the likes of Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson to benefit.
Without the ball he does his job brilliantly for the Baggies, able to tuck in from the wing or play a disciplined defensive midfield role, and he therefore has 'defensive contribution' as another of his WhoScored strengths.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter. All-time results record (League, FA Cup and League Cup)
The in-form Black Cats are aiming to clinch a fourth successive league victory for the first time since December 2000.
Sunderland have the worst record in the Premier League against bottom-half opposition, claiming just 11 points from 16 matches.
The Baggies have drawn 15 league matches this term, more than any other side in the top flight, although their last one away from home came in December.
Last time out
HOME: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, September 21, 2013, Albion 3 (Sessegnon 20, Ridgewell 76, Amalfitano 90) Sunderland 0
AWAY: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, November 24, 2012, Sunderland 2 (Gardner 73, Sessegnon 87) Albion 4 (Gera 30, Long 44, Lukaku pen 81, Fortune 90)
Form guide (last six league matches)
Last league match line-ups
ALBION (v Arsenal – away L 1-0): Foster, Dawson, Olsson, Lugano, Brunt, Mulumbu (Vydra 85), Amalfitano (Anichebe 80), Dorrans, Morrison, Sessegnon, Berahino. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), McAuley, O'Neil, Yacob, Sinclair.
SUNDERLAND (v Manchester United – away W 1-0): Mannone, Brown, O'Shea, Vergini, Alonso, Larsson (Bridcutt 74), Johnson (Giaccherini 58), Colback, Cattermole, Wickham (Altidore 65), Borini. Subs not used: Ustari (gk), Bardsley, Ba, Scocco.
Sunderland team news
Sunderland are not expected to have any fresh injury concerns but remain without long-term absentees Steven Fletcher, Ki Sung-Yeung and Carlos Cuellar.
Lee Mason will referee Wednesday's game. The Lancashire official last oversaw the Baggies in their 1-0 win at home to Newcastle on New Year's Day. He has dished out 77 yellow cards and five red in 24 games this term.
Selected odds from Sky Bet:
Albion to win: 7/2
Sunderland to win: 1/1
Stephane Sessegnon to score first: 8/1
Connor Wickham to score first: 9/2
If you fancy a flutter with the club's official online betting partner, click here
Tickets will remain on general sale from The Hawthorns’ East Stand box office until noon on Wednesday. Albion fans can also pay at the Stadium of Light via the away fans’ cash-only turnstiles. For more information, click here
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