Graphic: Why Slaven Bilic should select this West Ham XI versus Sunderland

Sunderland Stadium of Light

West Ham United take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light this weekend.

West Ham United travel to the North East this Saturday seeking to extend their phenomenal 100% away record in the Premier League as they take on basement club Sunderland.

The Hammers have been truly remarkable on the road this season, defeating Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to collect a nine-point haul few could have predicted.

West Ham’s success has largely been down to playing a narrow midfield and getting the best out of Dimitri Payet in an attacking midfield role, a system which Slaven Bilic should seek to continue on Saturday.

Back five:

Angelo Ogbonna is tipped to return in early October, but this game is likely to come too soon for the Italian international, therefore James Tomkins and Steven Reid should start at centre-back.

Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson have been mainstays in the full-back positions, and there is no need for Bilic to alter that for the trip to Sunderland.

Midfield and attack:

The midfield area is a potential problem for West Ham, with their narrow unit delivering resounding success and disastrous failure in the first few weeks of the campaign.

Against Arsenal and Liverpool, the Hammers' compact midfield stifled their opponents, yet playing the same way against Leicester City and Bournemouth caused problems with the onus on them to attack.

Will Sunderland come out and put pressure on the East Londoners, or will they sit back themselves and look to exploit space on the counter, similar to Leicester? It’s an interesting dilemma for Bilic to solve.

Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate ought to start, while there is no reason to dislodge hardworking wide men Victor Moses and Manuel Lanzini considering West Ham’s away form.

Michail Antonio and Nikica Jelavic are solid attacking options off the bench, while Pedro Obiang is the ideal candidate to come on and shore up the midfield if in a winning position.

Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho are almost irreplaceable at present, and their presence is likely to cause Dick Advocaat’s men plenty of problems as the Black Cats struggle at both ends of the pitch.

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