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West Bromwich Albion face Sunderland at The Hawthorns on Saturday in what already could prove to be a pivotal game in The Baggies season.
A win would see Albion rise up the league but a loss would see them slip back down to the foot of the table.
West Brom beat the Black Cats home and away last campaign, and other win on the weekend would kick start Albion’s season after a stuttering start.
Centre back Gareth McAuley grabbed West Brom’s first goal of season in last week’s 1-1 draw with Fulham, and things are starting to look up. West Brom looked dangerous throughout, creating more chances on goal then they had done in the previous three games combined.
Another positive for West Brom is that former PSG man Stephane Sessegnon has had his work permit approved and is set to feature against his former club.
The tricky winger would add another dimension to the West Brom attack. He has pace to burn and on his day has the ability to terrorise any defence in the Premier League. The Sunderland 2011/12 player of the season also has shown his ability to find the back of the net, scoring home and away against The Baggies last campaign.
The Benin international was brought to Sunderland for 6 million pound by former manager Steve Bruce. He knows how dangerous Sessegnon can be, saying “He can play on the left, on the right, through the middle – he’s lightning quick and he’s a match-winner. Stephane’s a little powerhouse with a low centre of gravity, some great dribbling skills and a good shot.”
If making your Premier League debut against your former club wasn’t enough motivation for the 29 year old, he should be out to prove Sunderland manager Paulo Di Canio wrong. Sessengnon’s former coach blasted him in the press, saying “I wanted to keep him but then I saw how he was in games and I was not impressed with his desire or his attitude.”
Both sides are in poor form, stretching back to last season. West Brom are winless in eleven games, whereas Sunderland have only won two in nineteen, which is equivalent to half a season. However Albion have won six out of the last seven games against the Black Cats, drawing the other.
Nicholas Anelka could also be in line to score his first Premier League of the season, as he has enjoyed so much success against the weekend’s opponents in the past. The former France international has scored seven goals in ten appearances against the team from the North East.
Despite being so early on in the season, this game could already be turning into a must win, to shape West Brom’s season. A loss would most probably see Albion confined to a relegation scrap, but a win would see them climb the league, challenging for a top half place. If the history books are anything to go by, Albion should hopefully come out on top.