Big Sam wary of Sunderland
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is expecting a tricky test against Sunderland as his men look to maintain their impressive start.
The Irons have won two of their opening four league games, with last weekend's goalless draw at Norwich a fourth clean sheet in all competitions.
Sunderland, meanwhile, have yet to record a league victory, drawing all three of their matches, with the home fixture against Reading having been called off because of a waterlogged pitch.
West Ham may have rolled Fulham over 3-0 in their last outing at the Upton Park, but Allardyce knows the Hammers will have to fight for any positive result again tomorrow.
"Everybody is buzzing about the free-scoring nature of Arsenal yet Sunderland managed to get a 0-0 draw there on the opening day," said Allardyce.
"Then, against Swansea they took the lead twice and knowing [Sunderland manager] Martin O'Neill as I do, he will have felt disappointed not to win the game.
"I know what to expect from Sunderland having studied those two games and also from knowing Martin and the way he structures his teams.
"We have to make sure we are capable of breaking them down and ensure that when we create opportunities, we take them."
Doing just that, however, will again be down to someone other than England international Andy Carroll, the on-loan Liverpool striker who is recovering from a hamstring problem which saw him limp off in the second half of his debut before the international break.
Allardyce expects the rest of his squad to step up to the challenge tomorrow in front of what is set to be another expectant crowd.
"We have delivered two very important home wins and, coupled with the back end of last season, we have won six home games in a row and only conceded one goal," he said.
"In the games we have had here, including the Capital One Cup game against Crewe, we have done exceptionally well.
"We want to continue that against a very strong Sunderland side who have gone away to Arsenal and Swansea and come away with points. It will be very difficult for us."
Despite Allardyce playing down West Ham's positive start, it has been in marked contrast to the other two sides who were both promoted ahead of the east London club.
Indeed, Southampton, runners-up to Reading in May, currently sit rock bottom with four successive defeats - the last of which was a 6-1 mauling at Arsenal.
Allardyce, though, accepts it may not always be such a smooth ride for the Irons as they look to establish themselves among England's elite clubs once again.
"We are very pleased with the start we have made. Unfortunately for Southampton and Reading, they haven't been able to do the same but admittedly the fixture list was much kinder to us," he said.
"Pressure will be on every team at some point in the season, their tough time happens to be right now because they haven't picked up many points, but based on the games they have played that is understandable.
"It is a marathon not a sprint, but as we all know pressure is heaped on you, especially in this league, if you don't start well."
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