West Brom v Sunderland
25 April 2009
There is a renewed optimism amongst the Baggies' faithful that things are starting to turn around at the Hawthorns. Don't get me wrong nobody is expecting that West Brom will pull off Great Escape II but fans have been encouraged by the inclusion of some young blood in match day squads in recent weeks and the apparent jettisoning of misfits such as Luke Moore. Albion's Academy players are starting to force their way into Mowbray's thoughts and the presence of 17 year old Chris Wood against Portsmouth signalled the Manager's intent to utilise youth and experience in pursuit of a rapid return to the Premier League following an inevitable relegation.
Baggies fans have been desperate to see some young blood in the first team and the introduction of Graham Dorrans has been long overdue. Dorrans has been included ahead of record signing Borja Valero in recent weeks and been far more effective. Young loanee Youssuf Mulumbu has found himself on the bench after a frustrating time out injured since he joined from Paris St Germain in January and he has impressed when he has come on as a defensive midfielder, something Albion have missed since Mowbray came to the club. Academy boy Joss Labadie is also looking promising as a defensive midfielder and England youth player Lateef Ellford-Alliyu could be ready to push his way into a first team forward position next season. Goalkeeper, Luke Daniels and midfielder David Worrall may also further their claims for a first team game next season also. What is so often forgotten in these days of instant gratification is that it takes time to build a football club. West Brom have taken that time although the yo-yoing of recent years has led to many observers writing off the Baggies the fact of the matter is that the club has strong foundations and a promising future awaits regardless of what has happened this season.
West Brom Manager,Tony Mowbray, knows that games are running out for his team to try to stave off relegation but he hasn't given up hope yet: "Five wins out of five would give us 40 points"
"We have got to make sure we beat them because if we don't, or we don't beat the next team, we'll have run out of games and then we'll have been officially relegated"
Sunderland Manager, Ricky Sbragia, is wary of the Baggies threat: "West Brom might be bottom but on their day they're a good side. I watched them against Manchester City last weekend and they played some good football."
"They play a system that their manager believes in and they can play it really well, it will be a hard game for us".
West Brom Team News:
James Morrison will definitely be missing the game with a heel injury and this could see a first start for Juan Carlos Menseguez. Shelton Martis is fit again but Meite is likely to partner Olsson in the centre of defence again. Roman Bednar is also fit after a hamstring strain but unlikely to start.
West Brom (from): Carson, Zuiverloon, Meite, Olsson, Robinson, Koren, Greening, Brunt, Dorrans, Fortune, Simpson, Bednar, Martis, Kiely, Valero, Mulumbu, Teixeira, Donk, Wood and Menseguez.
Player to watch: Juan Carlos Menseguez
After impressing and scoring two goals for the reserves against Chelsea in the week Menseguez will be looking to cement a move in the close season by putting in a good performance if he gets his chance.
Sunderland Team News:
Sunderland welcome back Kieran Richardson and Dean Whitehead but Nyron Nosworthy and George McCartney are likely to be sidelined.
Sunderland (from): Gordon, Fulop, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Davenport, Ben-Haim, Collins, McShane, Tainio, Whitehead, Edwards, Malbranque, Richardson, Leadbitter, Yorke, Reid, Cisse, Murphy, Jones and Healy.
Player to watch: Kieran Richardson
Richardson has been the heartbeat of Sunderland this season and makes things tick for them. He could pile more hurt on Albion if they give him time and space to get into the game.
The Baggies have drawn three and lost three of their last six games so the time is right for another win. Meanwhile, Sunderland's win last week against a free falling Hull team ended a miserable run of four straight defeats.
3-1 to the Baggies to atone for the 4-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light.
Away to Tottenham on 2 May followed by a home game against Wigan Athletic on 9 May.