With almost as strong and healthy a club as West Ham has had in many decades, is it dreaming in Technicolor to wonder if this side has Champions League quality?

We’ll put that aside for just a minute and focus on this week’s opponent and a tricky visit to Sunderland. The Stadium of Light can be a miserly place for even the very best of visitors as Chelsea found out recently when they were held to a 0-0 draw. Sunderland previously drew at home with Manchester United 1-1 as well.

So, though we’re far above Sunderland in the standings there won’t be any gimmes this afternoon. However, given that we have Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia, Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate and Stewart Downing in fine form, we surely go in with a big advantage, one we should use on a Sunderland back line of Wes Brown and John O’Shea that is experienced, but ageing. And Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole are always available to start or come in off the bench to give us a big boost if and when needed.

Not only that but I like our back line of James Tomkins, Winston Reid and James Collins (take your choice of any two of those three) plus Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell, as well as the sharp Adrian in goal – a clean sheet is always a possibility.

Connor Wickham, Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore will try to cause trouble in front of goal but our defenders are more than capable of handling those sizeable forwards.

With cellar-dwelling Leicester City coming for a visit next week, it’s imperative we go into our double-derby holiday smash up on a six-point high and at least in fourth place.

Who knows, we might even be third by then!