Mar 31, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Sunderland will try to dig its way out of the relegation zone with a victory over West Ham United on Monday.
The Black Cats currently sit 19th in the Premier League on 25 points, four adrift of safety. They enter the match in a poor run of form, having lost four of their last five matches in the league. But Gus Poyet’s side will be boosted by playing in front of the home crowd knowing that they won this fixture 3-0 last season.
For West Ham, the match represents a golden opportunity for manager Sam Allardyce to regain the backing of the fans following a hostile reception after last week’s 2-1 victory over Hull City. The win was the Hammers first in four matches but it didn’t stop supporters from panning the manager for playing an unattractive style of football, which prompted a firey response from Allardyce explaining that his tactics are designed to get results.
A victory for Sunderland will see them leapfrog Cardiff City into 18th place while three points for West Ham will provide extra separation from 12th place Aston Villa, currently equal on 34 points.
Sunderland – Mannone; Brown, O’Shea (c), Vergini; Alonso, Bridcutt, Ki, Cattermole, Bardsley; Wickham, Borini.
Bench – Gardner, Johnson, Colback, Altidore, Cuellar, Scocco, Ustari.
West Ham – Adrian; McCartney, Tomkins, Reid, Demel; Noble, Taylor; Downing, Nolan, Diame; Carroll.
Bench – Jarvis, Armero, J. Cole, C. Cole, Jaaskalainen, Johnson, Nocerino.
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