Hammers boss Sam Allardcye resisted the temptation to start Matt Jarvis and Yossi Benayoun opting to name the same starting XI from the goalless draw with Norwich. Martin O’Neill was unable to call upon the services of new signing Adam Johnson for the second week in a row as the Black Cats chased their first league victory of the season in South-East London.
West Ham started brightly but their tendency to knock the ball long towards Carlton Cole often saw the life choked out of their attacking momentum as Sunderland set out their stall to combat the expected aerial bombardment. It took the visitors just nine minutes to take advantage as a double error from James Collins allowed Larsson to cross for Steven Fletcher to finish past Jussi Jaaskelainen for his fourth in three games since arriving from Wolves last month.
The hosts pressed forward in search of an equaliser and came close on 23 minutes but Ricardo Vaz Te could only direct his header wide from Matt Taylor’s cross after Nolan’s effort was blocked. Man of the match Mohamed Diame then tried his luck from edge of the area before Nolan struck a free kick straight into the wall.
Simon Mignolet repelled the West Ham skipper’s acrobatic volley just after the break before Joey O’Brien tested the Belgian keeper from substitute Jarvis’ lay off. Collins then tried to atone for his earlier errors, heading over Noble’s corner but it was left to Nolan to save his sides skin. Jarvis hooked over a cross that Modibo Maiga headed down for the former Newcastle midfielder to volley past Mignolet on the turn to maintain the Hammers unbeaten home record.