Frederic Kanoute has hit back at his critics in the best possible way in recent Premiership matches, letting his goals do the talking.
The French striker has now scored five times in West Ham's last ten league fixtures, with his most recent strike coming in the 2-0 win at home to Charlton a fortnight ago. In total, Kanoute and fellow frontman Paolo di Canio have been responsible for 20 of the 42 league goals the Hammers have scored this season.
The strikers for today's visitors Sunderland have struggled to make that kind of impact in front of goal this term, despite the best efforts of England international Kevin Phillips. The former Watford man has unleashed 130 shots - more than any other Premiership player - but even though 62 of these strikes have been on target, only nine have found their way into the back of the net.
Yet despite that poor goalscoring record, Phillips has still had the confidence to drop deep and contribute a great deal in other areas of the pitch for Peter Reid's side. He is one of three Sunderland players to have supplied four assists and 71% of his passes have found a team-mate.
Kanoute's distribution has not been as good as that of his counterpart, but the 24-year-old, like Phillips, is confident with the ball at his feet. The Hammer has gone on 157 dribbles in 24 appearances, although only half have proved successful. In contrast, Phillips has completed an average of 70% of his dribbles.
No Premiership side has scored fewer goals this season than Sunderland, but the Hammers' defence will still be well aware of the threat that Phillips poses. He scored the only goal of the game when the two sides met at the Stadium of Light last December and would love to make it a matching pair this afternoon.
You can find odds of 5/1 on the Englishman notching the first goal of the game on Saturday as he looks to end the season on a high, after appearing to have been left out of Sven-Goran Eriksson's plans for this summer's World Cup Finals.
But Kanoute, who scored the last time he played against the Black Cats in the FA Cup Fifth Round last season, may have something to say about that as the French forward has what manager Glenn Roeder describes as a physical presence in the Hammers side. Kanoute is 4/1 himself to score the first goal of the match, and the visitor's rearguard is sure to find out about his attacking prowess in their penultimate away game of the 2001-02 campaign.