Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester City vs Sunderland

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

Match Preview

Manchester City kick off their 2016/17 Premier League campaign and new era under manager Pep Guardiola at home against Sunderland on Saturday evening.

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.

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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.

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Team News

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.

Key Points

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.

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Score Prediction

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.

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The Dugout: Can Ronald Koeman take Everton to the next level?

The 2016/17 Premier League season is less than a week away and a number of clubs will start the campaign with new managers. Fans will be expecting more from their team and here, ‘The Dugout‘ will explore if Ronald Koeman can take Everton to the next level…

Everton fans will be hoping the appointment of Ronald Koeman can signal the beginning of a new era for the club as their Premier League season begins at home against Tottenham this weekend. It has been a tough two years to take for the Toffees as they have finished 11th with 47 points in consecutive campaigns and have looked a shadow of the side that finished 5th just three years ago.

The time seemed right for Everton to part ways with Roberto Martinez and they have done very well to lure Ronald Koeman away from Southampton after a successful season. Koeman guided the Saints to a sixth-place finish and Everton fans will be hoping he can repeat that feat or even better it this season.

Koeman has a great platform to start with at Everton, with a squad who have been underachievers in the last two campaigns. It will be interesting to see how he can develop the players and push the side back up the table.

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So how can Koeman take Everton to the next level?

Motivation:

It is no surprise that a team performs much better when they are highly motivated and Koeman can do just that. The Everton players looked in disarray for large parts of last season despite some great results against the top clubs. Koeman has the experience of being part of a setup that thrives on motivation from both his playing and managerial days.

The Dutchman has been working on his squad in the summer transfer window, releasing a number of long-term servants to the club with the likes of Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar all departing. He is clearly looking to freshen things up and bring forward a less predictable Everton for the coming season.

With Koeman’s ability to motivate players, Everton fans will be hoping top players will become more consistent. Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu are three players who came under some criticism last campaign for inconsistent performances. There is no doubt they are all capable of putting in world-class shifts and with Koeman directing the style of play, these three could massively benefit from his guidance.

While these three were in no way to blame for Everton’s below-par season last term, they are the types of players who are expected to provide. If Koeman can motivate the strong attacking trio to feed the striker – whoever that may be as uncertainty still looms over Romelu Lukaku’s future – the club should look more deadly in front of goal in the upcoming season.

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Premier League record:

Koeman has had a brilliant start to managerial life in the Premier League. He guided Southampton to a 7th place finish in his first season as manager and finished 6th in the last campaign, proof Koeman has the ability to improve a side in the world’s most competitive league.

Squad consistency:

Through their Premier League history, Everton have been a side who have boasted long-term squad players, something Koeman will relish the opportunity to work with. At Southampton Koeman perhaps didn’t – or wouldn’t – have had the opportunity to keep the same group of players for season upon season.

Koeman is already under pressure regarding the future of both John Stones and Romelu Lukaku. So far Everton have shown their resolve to keep their best players – a similar scenario to their continued rebuff of Chelsea’s efforts to tempt Stones away from the club this time last year.

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With this in mind Koeman has a great platform to build a squad with a strong core knowing that the club will be backing his every decision regarding the future of his players.

Koeman has a lot of work to do to take Everton to the next level but in joining the club he has the chance to do so. The Toffees appear to have a policy of giving players and staff every opportunity to reach their highest potential before stepping in and taking any action and he will be hoping to hit the ground running against Tottenham on Saturday.

Is Koeman the right man to lead Everton forward? Can he take them to the next level?