Premier League Preview: West Ham United vs Sunderland

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  •  Sunderland has lost just one of its last seven against West Ham
  •  Last time out is the only 0-0 draw in the last 30 meetings between these clubs
  •  West Ham has not won since January 18

Dick Advocaat will begin his Sunderland managerial tenure at Upton Park on Saturday (Watch live, 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra). He has a mountain to climb. While Sunderland is not officially in the relegation zone, the club is just a single point above it, and watched Burnley get a famous win last week against Manchester City.

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The 67-year-old Dutchman has stated every player in training is available for selection on Saturday. While that excludes the suspended Lee Cattermole, that notably does include Adam Johnson. The midfielder returned to training two days ago after the club lifted his suspension. He was temporarily sent away from the club after an arrest for suspicion of sex with an underage girl.

West Ham, meanwhile, is struggling with the doldrums of a mid-table season, currently in 10th. The Hammers are in no danger of the drop, but are also 11 points off the top seven, leaving them in the unenviable position of having little to play for down the stretch. Managers have found it hard to motivate players in such a position year after year, and as a result West Ham hasn’t found league victory since mid-January. As an added knock, Winston Reid will miss out with a hamstring injury.

What they’re saying:

Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat on his new position: “We are now in a situation where we are playing more or less at the bottom of the league, so something has to change. I’m a coach that likes to control games. Sunderland have not done a lot of that.”

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on his position: “I understand why the speculation is there, of course I do. Everyone knows my contract with the club expires at the end of June and, as yet, nothing further has been decided. I would stress that, providing everyone is happy, I would like to stay at West Ham. They are a great club, moving in the right direction and a lot is now in place for sustained improvement.”

Prediction:

New managers always provide a boost to a new club, although it sometimes takes a match or two. But with the Hammers in a mid-table slump and Sunderland newly lifted, the Black Cats are poised to take this one 2-0 and leap away from the relegation zone.