Thursday, October 29, 2009

Premier League Preview: Sunderland v. West Ham United

If the Hammers think that coming back to draw with Arsenal represent the proverbial "turn the corner" then the good work must be continued with another fine display against Sunderland. Playing at the Stadium of Light is not an easy task as the Black Cats have very passionate fans which can prove to be the 12th man for the home side. With nothing to choose between Sunderland and West Ham, the challenge is on West Ham to firstly, silence the home fans and secondly, to overpower Sunderland on the pitch.

The 4-4-2 formation that Zola fielded last weekend against Arsenal worked very well and it would be a good idea to stick with that formation. Mark Noble however have not been performing as well as he should and he must be the one to make way for the impressive Valon Behrami. A midfield four of Diamanti, Parker, Behrami and Collison looks combative enough against the pressuring and harrying Sunderland midfielders.

One worrying factor is the way Tomkins, Upson and Green have dealt with corners, crosses and free kicks into the penalty area. Worrying because this is a strength of Sunderland's. The Black Cat's twin terrors have demonstrated that they are a force by plundering 13 goals in the last 10 Premier League matches. If Danny Gabbidon is fit enough, he would be ideal to partner Upson as he has the experience and defensive expertise.

From the Arsenal match, the partnership of Cole and Franco would need time to gel and build an understanding. Yet it looks to be a potentially good partnership with Zavon Hines coming on as an impact substitute with his pace to unsettle tired defences. Carlton Cole has yet to finish on the winning side whenever he scored this season and that's a run that he will look to change this coming Saturday.

The Flat Back Four's favoured West Ham lineup (4-4-2):
--------------------------------- Green

Spector --------------- Gabbidon ------ Upson ------------ Ilunga

---------------------------- Parker

----------------------------------------------- Behrami

Diamanti -------------- ----------- ---- ------------------- Collison

------------------------ Cole ------ Franco

So relegation thoughts are not welcome at this stage! A draw seems a feasible target but it is the much needed win that Hammer fans are looking for. Furthermore, three points against a very good Sunderland side may finally mean that the Hammers have turned the corner. A good match is in store, for sure filled with passion, commitment and great passing football.

The Premier League WAG news scene whould be a lot poorer without the delectable Elena Bonzanni, the Italian TV presenter who is Valon Behrami's long time partner.

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