West Ham v Sunderland - Saturday 15:00
Slaven Bilic surprised Palace by implementing a back three in their last match, the switch working well for a number of reasons. Payet and Lanzini were freed from as much defensive responsibility as possible with Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble screening the defence behind them, whilst the extra centre-half allowed the width to come from the wing-backs. Not only did this allow Payet and Lanzini to get more involved by playing centrally, but also had the effect of pinning Palace’s wingers back onto the half-way line. The only negative to this system was the curtailing of Michail Antonio’s attacking instincts, but this was a price worth paying for the defensive assurance the system provided.
Sunderland suffered a damaging defeat to Stoke that leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table and the Black Cats have now scored just six goals in their eight matches this season. The only real positive was the performance of winger Wahbi Khazri, who has been strangely underused by David Moyes after his crucial role in Sunderland’s great escape last year.
West Ham haven’t won at home since August and following a morale boosting win over London rivals Palace, this match provides a fantastic opportunity to get things right at home and kick-start their season. We think West Ham might have to be patient against a side likely to park the bus, but given Sunderland’s limitations in attack we’re backing West Ham to win to nil at 3.1.