It’s finally game week and after a summer hiatus the stadiums are all decked up and the teams raring to go headlong into what many forecast will the most competitive English Premier League season in a long time.
Sunderland have been going through a lot in the last few months. While they breathed a sigh of relief after narrowly avoiding relegation for a third consecutive year and looked forward to a rebuilding phase, they were hit badly by England’s horror show in the Euros. England’s performances led to Roy Hodgson’s sacking and Big Sam found the honour too alluring to turn down.
The Black Cats subsequently hired David Moyes to be the man looking to change their fortunes drastically. They have had a relatively quiet summer with Sunderland not loosening their purse strings as of yet. Moyes has recruited Chelsea blink and miss player Papy Djilobodji who has been credited with playing 58 seconds for the fallen champions. Moyes has also signed Donald Love and Paddy McNair from Manchester United in a combo offer having known the youngsters from his disastrous stint at Manchester United.
Moyes will face off against title favourites Manchester City managed by Pep Guardiola. Moyes will trump Pep with his Premier League experience any day but things will not be as straightforward on the pitch. Though City fans will be wary of the Scot while at his time at Everton, whom City simply failed to beat and it is not a coincidence that their record against the Goodison Park outfit has improved drastically after he left the club. Like Guardiola, Moyes too seeks to take control of the midfield though the style is distinctively brazen in comparison. But nevertheless, it will a fascinating battle against two teams who, albeit are at the different ends of the spectrum but the nature of the Premier League will guarantee excitement.
TEAM NEWS AND PREDICTED LINE-UP
Moyes will most likely go into the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation but he will have to be flexible in the face of Guardiola’s eccentricities. They have been boosted by the return of Jermaine Defoe but Billy Jones (hip), Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring) and Sebastian Larsson (knock) are all slight doubts. Januzaj will look to come off the bench having completed a loan move from Manchester United.
Mannone will start in goal and the centre-back pairing will likely see a last minute change after Kone handed in a transfer request in order to push through a move to Everton. Kaboul will most likely line up with new signing Djilobodji. Van Aanholt will look to continue his raids down the left-hand side but right-back is less clear with Jones a doubt. McNair might make his debut with Love and John O’Shea options.
If in case Kirchhoff is unavailable, Rodwell will start alongside Cattermole in the double pivot with Khazri in the No.10 role.
Borini will most likely line-up on the left-wing with Duncan Watmore and Lens fighting it out for the right-wing. Defoe will lead the line in all probability having being passed fit.