The game comes at an intriguing time for both clubs, with Sunderland looking to halt their slide to the Championship under the stewardship of new boss Dick Advocaat.
They head to the Boleyn Ground to take on a West Ham team who are in a poor run of form of their own, with Sam Allardyce’s men keen on moving back up the table into the European places.
The Black Cats will be hoping that many of their star players step up in the coming weeks to guarantee Premier League survival, none more so than Jermain Defoe, who has hardly set the league alight since his January transfer from MLS side Toronto FC. Just two goals in 10 games have done little to suggest that the former West Ham striker is good enough to keep the Wearside club in the top flight, but one former Hammer believes that Defoe must still be watched.
Former England international Defoe netted 29 goals in 94 games for West Ham in the early 2000s, before enjoying spells with Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth. At the age of 32, he is likely playing for his last Premier League club, but Ian Pearce - who played alongside Defoe - has told the official Irons website that Defoe’s goalscoring ability should not be underestimated.
The former defender said: “Nobody needs to be reminded that Jermain Defoe always enjoys scoring a goal or two.”
For West Ham’s sake, one would hope that Defoe continues with his poor form, otherwise a goal against his former club seems inevitable.