By Jemma Tappenden
November 24 2012
West Bromwich Albion travel to Sunderland today for their lunch time Premier League fixture, which could see them elevated to third in the table above Chelsea, for 24 hours at least if Clarke's men can collect all three points from Martin O'Neill's strugglers. Sunderland's so far sparing from the bottom three is more down to the poor form of the five sides below them, although they sit just 3 points away from relegation places at present.
West Brom in comparison could not have got off to a better start, and come into this fixture on the back of victories against Chelsea and Wigan; their first away victory of the season. Having dropped only three points at home all season Albion's away form has hardly needed to be called into question, but all eyes will be on the Midlands side this afternoon to see if they can build upon that first away victory to Wigan Athletic a fortnight ago.
It's a task they will be facing without Youssouf Mulumbu, who has been a key feature of Albion's success so far this season. Ben Foster also remains sidelined with second choice keeper Boaz Myhill making his third consecutive appearance. Gareth McAuley and striker Romelu Lakaku both return for the Baggies this afternoon, the latter was sidelined during the victory over Chelsea at the Hawthorns last weekend due to the terms of his on loan agreement.
Sunderland will welcome back Craig Gardner after his suspension, but gaffer Martin O'Neill declined the opportunity to name his injury doubts, stating only that he had "one or two" player concerns.
Albion are unbeaten in their last five fixtures with Sunderland, having won four of those. In fact six out the last seven fixtures between these clubs have produced a minimum of three goals. In comparison to West Brom, Sunderland have won just one of their last 8 home games, and last weekend's win over Fulham was only their second victory in 19 Premier League games. To top it off Martin O'Neill's side have scored just three goals at home all season; the worst record in the division.
West Brom on the other hand go in search of their fourth consecutive top flight victory at the Stadium of Light this afternoon. The last time Albion managed this was 32 years ago in October 1980. Whilst Albion have won just two of their last 11 away PL fixtures, they are the only side in the division yet to concede a goal in the first 30 minutes of a game.