Competition: Premier League – Sunderland vs. Middlesbrough
Venue: Stadium Of Light – Sunday, August 21 – 13:30 BST (08:30 EDT)
Match Odds: Sunderland 7/5 – Draw 2/1 – Middlesbrough 21/10
Sunderland started life under David Moyes where Sam Allardyce left them, with long spells spent defending on the back foot. Moyes has a huge task on his hands to make this club successful but will have been encouraged by the determination of his players in that 2-1 loss last weekend.
There are an abundance of leaders within this Sunderland team and a clinical striker up front in Jermaine Defoe so it’s not all doom and gloom.
We expect Moyes to be busy in the run up to transfer deadline day as departures are expected, however, it is key he continues to add to his squad to bolster options for the duration of the campaign.
Middlesbrough could be the dark horses of the new Premier League season after an impressive opening day draw at home to Stoke.
One thing Middlesbrough have in abundance is attacking options, and good ones at that. Players like Gaston Ramirez, Stewart Downing and Alvaro Negredo all have Premier League experience which could prove vital for Boro.
We’re still not sure how Middlesbrough compare to other sides that are expected to finish in the bottom half, but as mentioned, they could be a surprise package and a top half finish isn’t beyond them, considering the quality of players at Aitor Karanka’s disposal.
This will be the first Tees-Wear derby since 2012. They last met in the Premier League in 2009, with the sides playing out a 1-1 draw in Middlesbrough in the most recent top flight clash. Boro have only won one of their last seven games against the Black Cats in all competitions.
Sunderland are missing as many as five key figures for this one. Lamine Kone misses out through a back injury, while Seb Larsson, Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff are long-term absentees. Billy Jones isn’t expected to shake off a hip injury, with Fabio Borini a doubt with a toe injury. Younes Kaboul has reportedly had a medical at Watford so won’t feature.
Middlesbrough have five missing as well, with Marten De Roon, James Husband, Daniel Ayala, Grant Leadbitter and Bernardo Espinoza all out until the start of September at the earliest. Alvaro Negredo is expected to start again after scoring on his debut last weekend.
Sunderland’s form: L
Middlesbrough’s form: D
Key Stat: Middlesbrough have not beaten Sunderland in the Premier League since 2006.
Key Player: Jermaine Defoe – In a game which is expected to be cagey, Defoe can be the clinical edge that Sunderland may need to seal three points in this derby game.
Sunderland 1-0 Middlesbrough – Neither side is expected to set the league alight this season and so we expect a low-scoring affair between these rivals. However, we see Sunderland just nicking it, with home advantage and Premier League experience likely to prove vital on the day.