Date: 17th October 2015 at 8:33am
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Sam Allardyce takes charge of his first match as Sunderland manager as the Premier League strugglers travel to out of form West Brom.

This game is already huge for both teams after disappointing starts to the season, especially the visitors who are five points from safety.

The Black Cats’ problems have been well reported but the Baggies have also stuttered of late with three defeats in a row in all competitions.

Tony Pulis will not be panicking as he has been in this position before but rarely has any of his sides struggled so much at home. A draw or defeat here will mean the Albion manager has gone five games without a home win in the Premier League for the first time.

Baggies fans will be boosted by the sight of Sunderland though, as they have beaten the Black Cats at the Hawthorns in five of the last six meetings.

Jonny Evans, James Morrison, Saido Berahino and Salomon Rondon are all injury doubts for the hosts who have yet to score in the first or last 30 minutes of a league match this season.

Allardyce has had a week to work with the players and is said to have already spoken with striker Jermain Defoe about pulling the trigger more often.

Sunderland have had fewer shots on target than any other team (32) and the ex-West Ham boss will try to solve this by getting the ball up the park as quickly as possible to the expected strike partnership of Defoe and Steve Fletcher.

The last time Sunderland failed to win any of the first ten games was way back in 1977 but their last three managers all started with an away defeat.

Big Sam, taking charge of his fourth Premier League club, will be without suspended duo Jeremain Lens and Sebastian Coates for his first game in charge.

However, Adam Matthews, Younes Kaboul, Yann M’Vila and Ola Toivonen should be fit to play.

League Position: West Brom – 17th (8 pts); Sunderland – 19th (3 pts)
Last Meeting: Sunderland 0-0 West Brom, February 2015
Key Men: West Brom – Saido Berahino; Sunderland – Jermain Defoe
Form: West Brom – LWDWLL   Sunderland – DDLLLD
Shoot Says: West Brom 2-1 Sunderland

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