Competition: Premier League – Manchester City vs. Sunderland
Venue: Etihad Stadium – Saturday, August 13 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)
Match Odds: Man City 1/4 – Draw 19/4 – Sunderland 11/1
It’s certainly an exciting time to be a City fan and they will be expecting their side to get off to a winning start here. Fans will be demanding much more than last seasons finish of 4th, they scraped into a Champions League playoff place and given Guardiola’s winning mentality, that would be a complete failure this time around.
Guardiola has made some big money signings throughout the summer transfer window and he will be expecting the new additions, along with the quality in the current squad, to make a strong challenge to win the Premier League.
Manchester City have a strong home record against Sunderland. They have won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the sides in all competitions. And if previous results are anything to go by we could be in for a goal-fest here, as City have scored at least three goals against Sunderland in seven of their last eight home meetings.
Sunderland will be looking to avoid another relegation battle this season and the club have replaced Sam Allardyce with David Moyes. It is a good appointment for the club, as despite his struggles at Manchester United, Moyes has a wealth of Premier League experience.
The Black Cats stayed up by two points at the end of last season, thanks to the guidance of Allardyce, and it is now time for them to try and push to the next level. A mid-table finish will be an achievable target if Sunderland can iron out their defensive issues that nearly cost them last season.
Moyes has just started to make some summer signings, while some long-term servants have departed the club. There is quality in the Sunderland side, but they have to build a team around a core of players to prove tougher opposition this season.
Sunderland couldn’t have had it much more difficult in their opening game. The buzz around City will be a huge task for them to deal with, but if they can take anything away from their opening weekend fixture confidence will be sky-high. This will be an interesting tie to watch.
Manchester City have added the likes of Ilkay Gundogan (£21m), Nolito (£13.8m), Leroy Sane (£37m) and most recently John Stones (£47.5m) to their squad. Guardiola already has some selection headaches as Gundogan, Sane and captain Vincent Kompany are unlikely to feature until September through injuries. Stones has a huge task ahead of him to step up to the mark and fill in for Kompany in the heart of the City defence. We can expect Guardiola to setup with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Sergio Aguero leading the line. Nolito could make his debut out on the left flank, while David Silva is likley to start in the number ten role. Kevin De Bruyne will more than likely start on the right. So far City have only seen two players depart, goalkeeper Richard Wright and Martin Demichelis are their completed outs.
Sunderland have released Wes Brown, Steve Harper and Danny Graham ahead of this season. Their completed ins are former United players Donald Love and Paddy McNair. David Moyes must utilise Jermaine Defoe and build a team to feed their frontman. He netted 15 goals in 33 appearances last season and if they can supply him he will be able to cause opposition defenders headaches like he has done his whole career. There are some concerns about Defoe’s fitness as well as Sebastian Larsson, Jan Kirchhoff and Billy Jones, all four players will be racing to get fit for their opener.
Manchester City’s last five: N/A
Sunderland’s last five: N/A
Key Stat: Guardiola saw his Bayern side lose just twice last season, once at home and once away, and they won 15 of their 17 home games. If that is anything to go by we could expect City to become a formidable force at home this season.
Key Player: Sergio Aguero – The obvious choice but Aguero is so integral to City. If Guardiola can get his squad playing his style, Aguero will score for fun. The Argentine goal-machine is so deadly and he will be relishing the battle to win the golden boot this season and fire City to silverware.
Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland – City to start off with a bang. This is going to be a very difficult task for Sunderland. While many people have tipped Guardiola to find the Premier League very difficult to adapt to, he will have his side ready to go here. Sunderland will be pleased to get one of the toughest places to visit out of the way so early on.