Rowell Report: Sunderland players must be mentally stronger against in-form West Ham United

Gary Rowell.
Gary Rowell.
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High-flying West Ham visit the Stadium of Light this weekend in Sunderland’s last game before the Premier League shuts down for another two-week break.

High-flying West Ham visit the Stadium of Light this weekend in Sunderland’s last game before the Premier League shuts down for another two-week break.

That could be easier said than done, as West Ham’s away form has been exceptional, with a 100 per cent win record from trips to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Because of our perilous position, I can’t see this game being anything other than a tense, nervy 90 minutes where the only thing that matters is a win, no matter how it’s achieved.

That could be easier said than done, as West Ham’s away form has been exceptional, with a 100 per cent win record from trips to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Three consecutive away victories in the top flight is impressive, but it’s the calibre of those teams that tells you all you need to know about how tough Saturday’s game is going to be.

The pressure is beginning to mount on Dick Advocaat and his players, and it will only get worse the longer the winless run continues.

Two points from a possible 21 represents yet another dreadful start to a campaign, that even at this early stage can only promise a battle to beat the drop.

West Ham will be aware of Sunderland’s predicament and will do everything they can to increase the pressure on the home team, and by doing that, they make their own job easier.

Sunderland need to show the crowd that they are up for the challenge. The fans won’t accept a half-hearted, casual attitude, but if they see a team giving every ounce of effort and one that’s fully committed from first minute to last, they’ll back them all the way.

I’m still not sure that Advocaat and his coaching staff know their best team, or what tactics suit the players best.

But whoever it is who crosses the white line at 3pm, needs to be mentally strong enough to cope with an afternoon that will test them to the limits.