Sunderland must not allow West Ham to settle if they are to end their winless start to the Premier League campaign, says striker Jermain Defoe.
Dick Advocaat’s side are bottom of the table after the opening seven matches of the 2015-16 season, with only two points to their name.
It is another poor start to a season for Sunderland – who have not won in their previous 10 league matches – and Defoe knows it is imperative they get three points under their belt to ensure they are not cut adrift.
They face a tough challenge on Saturday against a West Ham side that have already beaten Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal on their travels, so Defoe is hoping for an early goal against his former club to give Sunderland a fighting chance.
“We’re at home and we need to start the game quick,” he told the club’s official website.
“West Ham are a good side and they have picked up a lot of points and beaten some of the big teams, so they will come here and be confident but it is important for us to set our stall out from the first whistle and be positive.
“It is a big game, even more so because of how it has gone the last few games.
“We’ve not had that luck and not reached those levels we reached in the closing stages of last year, so it is a massive game and it is a game we need to win.
“It is important that we start getting points now because you can’t wait and think we will do it next week, we will do it next week – we have to do it now.”
West Ham arrive at the Stadium of Light having only lost one of their past six meetings with Sunderland, and inflicted defeat on Dick Advocaat in his first match in charge back in March.
Diafra Sakho was the difference between the two sides that day with a late strike at Upton Park, and the striker is in fine form with three goals in his last four appearances.
His form has helped Slaven Bilic’s side go four league games unbeaten ahead of Saturday’s clash and victory over Sunderland would be the first time West Ham have won four consecutive games away in the same Premier League season.
Another player Sunderland will be wary of is attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet, the Frenchman having three goals and three assists so far this season.
“He [Payet] is an exceptionally talented football player and has shown everyone what he can do so far,” Carl Jenkinson told the club’s official website. “I am sure there is more to come from him.
“They often say that it can take the foreign lads a season to do that, but not with Dimi and he has settled in straight away and he is playing fantastic football. Fair play to him and it is fantastic for us and his team-mates.”
Jack Rodwell is a doubt for Sunderland with an ankle problem, while the visitors have concerns over Winston Reid (back) and Andy Carroll, who needs to prove his match fitness.