West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland  - Premier League

West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Sunderland: Black Cats’ misery compounded (video)

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Prior to their match against Sunderland, West Brom had scored just one goal in the Premier League — and that was an injury-time equalizer from Gareth McAuley last week against Fulham. In other words, no one was placing bets on the Baggies to put three past Sunderland, even if the Black Cats’ leaky defense had conceded eight goals in four matches.

But that’s exactly what West Brom did, securing a win that moves them into 14th place, at least temporarily. Meanwhile, Sunderland remain dead last, their one point putting them behind even newcomers Crystal Palace. Paolo Di Canio must be wondering where it’s all gone wrong.

The Sunderland manager can start by regretting giving up Stephane Sessegnon. The Benin international went to West Brom at the close of the transfer window. Earlier this week, Di Canio suggested that Sessegnon hadn’t given his best to the club, and clearly hadn’t been committed enough to Sunderland. Naturally, that simply set up Sessegnon to grab a revenge goal, opening the scoring in the 20th minute. Kieren Westwood managed to do enough to block a shot from Scott Sinclair, but the ball fell to Sessegnon, who quickly put it in the back of the net.

1-0 West Brom. Di Canio? None too pleased.

At the start of the second half, Di Canio decided to mix things up a bit, bringing on Charalampos Mavrias for Emanuele Giaccherini, who’d wasted a free kick just before Sessegnon scored. With 30 minutes left to go, Fabio Borini made way for Jozy Altidore. The American quickly made himself useful, getting on the end of a cross but seeing his shot go just wide. Altidore also had his appeals for a handball waved away, which only added fuel to Di Canio’s steam.

With fifteen minutes left to play, and five minutes after Di Canio used his final substitution to replace Craig Gardner with Lee Cattermole, Steven Fletcher had to be carried off injured. Even before the flames started to rise from Di Canio’s head, West Brom had scored again. Westwood managed to tip away a cross, but Liam Ridgewell was waiting, placing his shot in the bottom left corner.

2-0 West Brom. Di Canio? Raging.

The hosts sunk the final nail in the Sunderland coffin during injury time. Morgan Amalfitano, who’d been excellent all match, got on the end of a ball from substitute Victor Anichebe. He sent his shot into the far corner and the Baggies finally had their first win of the season.

3-0 West Brom. Di Canio? Looking through the want ads, perhaps.

West Bromwich Albion: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Morrison, Sinclair (Yacob 69), Sessegnon (Berahino 89), Anelka (Anichebe 69)

Substitutes not used: Camp, Rosenberg, Lugano, Popov

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, Colback, Diakite, O’Shea, Ki, Gardner (Cattermole 69), Johnson, Giaccherini (Mavrias 46), Fletcher, Borini (Altidore 59)

Substitutes not used: Mannone, Ba, Cuellar, Dong-won

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.