Foward hoping to extend impressive run against Sunderland as he closes in on 30 Prem goalsPETER Odemwingie heads to the Stadium of Light tomorrow (ko 12.45pm) hoping to prove Sunderland’s nemesis again as he closes in on 30 Barclays Premier League goals.
The Nigeria international scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over the Black Cats on his Albion debut and has fired four goals in a four-game unbeaten run against them.
But he now faces perhaps his sternest test yet against the Mackems, with Martin O’Neill’s 15th-placed men boasting the joint third-best defensive record in the top flight, having conceded just 12 goals in 11 games.
“My first game in the Premier League was against Sunderland and is one my most memorable ones,” said Odemwingie.
“It became unforgettable because I scored the winner.
“I have no grudge against Sunderland it just happens that I seem to score against them often.
“Players seem to have certain teams that they play well against and score.
“I think it’s just a coincidence but, of course, I always have in mind that it is a team we pick up points from and I happen to score in most of the games against them.”
And, after notching three times in his last three games, he added: “I scored 15 in my first season, and last season ten.
“Just to get double figures every year would be good.
“I’m happy to have 29 and I have to thank my team-mates who assist me.
“The last two goals I’ve scored were headers, I’m not normally the best header of a ball but nice crosses from Shane [Long] have given me extra goals.
“Hopefully this is the start of a goalscoring run.
“Now I’m not playing as a striker I have less scoring opportunities but this means I have to put extra effort to get in front of goal.
“You have to have faith it’s going to come and put in the extra effort to get there.
“Sometimes the crosses don’t come in but the last two have and it’s a sign to me you need to keep going forward.
“I’m still expected to score goals so that’s what I’ll keep trying to do.”
The trip to the North East is the beginning of what Odemwingie has described as the toughest week in fourth-placed Albion’s season to date.
The Baggies also head to Swansea on Wednesday before a home clash with Stoke next Saturday.
“I think it is the toughest week yet,” he said.
“Sometimes it is not easy to not get carried away by good performances.
“But the week’s training has been good, in my opinion.
“There has been no sloppiness and it has been very serious.
“We have a big squad now and, with three games in a week, other players will get the opportunity to play.
“If we get players that are injured or tired we have good back-ups to keep going.”
And he believes Steve Clarke’s men will face a rejuvenated Black Cats side, following their 3-1 win at Fulham last Sunday – only their second league victory of the season.
“I saw parts of their game against Fulham,” Odemwingie added.
“Sunderland are a quality side.
“Before Sunday they had a few negative results.
“But they are still a quality side, with [Steven] Fletcher, who is in form at the moment, and [Stephane] Sessegnon finally scored.
“Those two players are not easy to deal with but I have confidence in our defence.
“Sunderland have had the emotional lift they needed and we have to deal with that.
“But, if we play our game, we will cause them a lot of trouble.”