West Brom v Sunderland: No corners, no free-kicks, no crosses
Would you take a draw now?
If you said “yes”, that is the right answer.
When you rate matches in terms of degree of difficulty, Sunderland’s match at West Brom is right up there.
Here are three key areas for David Moyes and the Black Cats.
No corners, no free-kicks, no crosses:
Tony Pulis’s powerful side have scored 28 league goals with 12 from free-kicks and corners. The Black Cats figures are 20/1 in comparison.
When Hull were blitzed 3-1 in their last league match at The Hawthorns, two of the three home goals came via corners delivered deep by Matt Phillips to the bonces of Chris Brunt and Gareth McAuley.
The Northern Ireland defenders are both threats but the Sunderland rearguard must also beware Saloman Rondon who recently bagged that rare feat of a hat-trick of headers when Swansea were also thumped 3-1.
Brunt is good with his head and left foot but Phillips is the man with the magic boot – the £5.5million summer signing from QPR now has eight assists in the top flight with only Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne having more.
Don’t allow West Brom any momentum:
A look at West Brom’s recent run of games at the Hawthorns makes for worrying viewing.
They have won four of their last five league fixtures, scoring 13 goals in the process.
West Brom might not have the home record of Chelsea and Burnley but they swat aside teams like Sunderland as though they are smashing a fly with a rolled up copy of the Echo.
When the Baggies get a scent of blood they really go for the kill and the Black Cats can’t afford to give the hosts any presents.
The West Brom boss was unhappy with his side at Totttenham last weekend when they did the un-Pulis-like thing and conceded four goals.
“We just weren’t on it, we were miles off it,“ remarked their chief and you can bet a pound to a penny that they’ll be at it from the first seconds against Sunderland.
The away defence need to show their mettle.
Show a bit of bottle:
Bravery is more than just going into a 50-50 or 40-60 or putting the body in the way.
It is about wanting the ball and trying to do something with it.
Moyes identified individual errors as the cause of their downfall last week against Stoke and he’s not wrong.
However, Sunderland started so sluggishly against the Potters that it allowed them free rein and the goals duly followed, admittedly with a helping hand.
Only when Seb Larsson and Jack Rodwell got stuck in did the Black Cats actually get going and they were three down at the time.
Sunderland need men at The Hawthorns require them to step up to the plate. West Brom’s confidence will have received a wee dent at White Hart Lane and the last thing the away side should be doing is giving them an easy time. They have to get on the ball and try to play in the opposition half.