Newly-appointed Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce will be conscious of the fact that his team have only defeated Exeter City this season, but that will not stop the former West Ham manager demanding an instant improvement from his new squad.
West Bromwich Albion
During the opening weeks of the season, it could have been argued that the transfer saga involving striker Saido Berahino had provided a distraction to a West Brom side looking to build on a solid conclusion to the last campaign.
That belief was strengthened when, after it was resolved after the end of the transfer window, the Baggies returned from the first international break to register four points and back-to-back clean sheets against Southampton and Aston Villa, but the defeat at home to Everton at the end of September has taken away any momentum that the club previously had.
West Brom appeared to be coasting against the Toffees after establishing a 2-0 lead, with the opener coming through Berahino's second strike in two games, but three goals conceded in the space of 28 minutes not only saw the club end the night empty handed, but left Tony Pulis with plenty of work to do ahead of the return to his former club Crystal Palace.
The former Eagles boss would have expected a positive response from his team but they were poor at Selhurst Park, and although Palace required 68 minutes to break the deadlock, there was little doubt that the West Midlands outfit deserved to be on the end of a 2-0 defeat.
A fixture at home to Sunderland is arguably ideal for the Baggies, despite the appointment of Allardyce, but it is one where they must deliver a result. After Saturday, six of their next seven games are against teams currently occupying a top-10 position, while the other outing sees them travel to Norwich City.
Recent form: LWDWLL
Recent form (all competitions): WDWLLL
After failing to win any of their first seven Premier League matches and with Dick Advoccat reported to be heading for the exit door ahead of the eighth, it was almost inevitable that Sunderland would return after the international break with a new man at the helm.
Allardyce, who is now managing his fifth club in English football's top flight, has been welcomed to the Stadium of Light with open arms by supporters desperate to see their team mix it higher up in the table, but the former Bolton Wanderers chief will be aware of the size of the task that awaits him in the North-East.
Sunderland possess the worst defensive record in the division, with no clean sheets being registered in 10 games in all competitions, while in attack, their strikers have contributed just two goals in the league in their last seven matches.
Summer signing Jeremain Lens has two goals to his name, like Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher, in the Premier League but his suspension for Saturday's game leaves more responsibility to the club's two senior frontmen, as well as Fabio Borini, who has not scored in five starts since joining from Liverpool.
Allardyce will be more concerned about improving his backline, but the trip to West Brom will be seen as an opportunity to hit the ground running at his new club. That said, any positive result, whether it be a win or a draw, would be beneficial ahead of the derby showdown with Newcastle United next weekend.
Recent form: DDLLLD
Recent form (all competitions): DLLLLD
Baggies defender Jonny Evans is a doubt with the hamstring problem that forced him out of international duty with Northern Ireland.
West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Chester, Brunt; Yacob, Morrison, Fletcher, McLean; Rondon, Berahino
Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Pantilimon, Jones, Yedlin, O'Shea, Kaboul, Cattermole, M'Vila, Gomez, Larsson, Borini, Fletcher
Head To Head
In 114 meetings, West Brom had won just one more match than Sunderland, with 42 triumphs compared to 41 for the Black Cats.
Sunderland are unbeaten in the last three contests, two of which have been draws, but before that, the Baggies had won seven out of eight.
West Brom are unbeaten in the last six games to take place at The Hawthorns.
We say: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Sunderland
The appointment of Allardyce should have provided Sunderland with a boost ahead of this weekend's fixture and we are backing them to avoid defeat in the West Midlands. They may fancy their chances of three points after drawing with in-form West Ham, but West Brom need a response of their own and that could see them nick a draw in the closing stages.