CB: Good afternoon chaps. A clash here between two sides who have flattered to deceive so far this term. Which way will it go?
JK: I wouldn’t have had this down as a relegation six-pointer after the signings these clubs made in the summer! Both sides have won just once this season, but Sunderland’s sole victory was a hugely impressive win over Stoke in their last home outing. The Mackems will relish this return to the Stadium of Light and can follow up their 4-0 win over the Potters two weeks ago. Several Sunderland players have spoken out in support of Steve Bruce and will want to put on a display to ease the pressure on their under-fire boss. They can do so at 11/10.
JF: I think any Baggies fan will agree with me that their start to this season has been less than successful. However, I really think that this weekend is when their fortunes will improve, as Sunderland are a team who in recent history they have done well against. They haven’t exactly set the world alight this season as well, so I think the Baggies’ odds of 23/10 on bwin to win are a steal.
CB: Do you think it will be a close encounter or will one side notch an easy win?
JK: Just like they did against Stoke, I really think Sunderland can come out and dish out a thrashing to West Brom here. The huge personnel turnover was always going to result in mixed results at this early stage of the season, but the Black Cats’ best performances have come at home, and with the likes of Nicklas Bendtner eager to get on the goal trail, I can see an emphatic win. Sunderland’s defensive record is impressive and includes a clean sheet in their last Stadium of Light outing. Considering all this, I feel that the 33/4 for Sunderland to overcome a two-goal handicap represents immense value.
JF: Well, seeing as you’re saying that, I might go for the opposite! I mentioned I thought this would be the game to kickstart West Brom’s season and I am going to stick by that by putting some cash on them beating the Mackems 3-0, which has great odds of 18/1. I mean, they beat them 3-2 last time around and 3-0 before that so I just think scoring three against these boys is their thing! Prove me right please, Baggies!
CB: Wow, neither of you pulling any punches there then! If you’re expecting such comprehensive wins, there must be some other markets you’re looking at?
JK: As I keep harping on about, the home advantage is massive for Sunderland in this game. I really think that we will see them get off on the front foot and storm to a half-time lead. I fancy the Mackems to see the game out too, adding more second-half goals to ease the pressure on manager Steve Bruce with a convincing win. I will definitely be investing in the 23/10 for Sunderland to be leading at half-time and full-time.
JF: In the last three meetings of these two clubs a Baggies player has scored first and with odds of 13/10 for West Brom to score first it must be tempting. I mean even with John O Shea and Wes Brown bolstering the defence I don’t think I have seen Sunderland look defensively sound at all.
CB: So who are the players we can expect to be scoring for your respective teams?
JK: Nicklas Bendtner divides opinion unlike any other Premier League player. Well actually, I tell a lie. Most fans think he’s absolutely useless! His overall record is not one to scowl at though. His tally of 33 goals in 143 games is even more impressive considering the majority of these appearances have come from the bench. Bendtner has looked sharp since joining the Black Cats and will be desperate to fire his first goal in front of his home fans. At 11/2, the Dane is great value to score first.
JF: Last season West Brom signed one of the most clinical finishers ever to grace the Premier League in my opinion and after returning from injury, Peter Odemwingie will surely go back to scoring form against a team who he scored against in both fixtures last season. His odds of 2/1 on bwin to score at any time must be tempting. I think this weekend will see the partnership of Shane Long and Odemwingie come to fruition and I can see the Irishman bagging a goal as well and he is also at 2/1 to do so at some point.
CB: It will certainly be interesting to see how this one pans out. Any final tips for our esteemed readers?
JK: The Sunderland crowd are one of the Premier League’s noisiest and most vocal – even Stoke couldn’t handle the atmosphere up there! You know they’ll be roaring on their men from the first whistle, and Sunderland can take advantage by getting off to a good start against Roy Hodgson’s Baggies. The Black Cats were three goals to the good by half time in their last home game, and whilst I can definitely see Sunderland winning it by at least three goals overall, I think the 23/4 for them to hit two first-half goals is the best bet here.
JF: With Titus Bramble definitely missing out I think Sunderland’s defence will be leaky and West Brom’s creative players, particualrly Chris Brunt, will be able to exploit this weakness. Along with this, this fixture has never been shy of goals and has had 16 in the past five meetings of the two clubs, so a bet on there being over 2.5 goals in the game seems like a no brainer at 9/10.
CB: We’ll see. Thanks for your comments – may the best team win!
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