Sunderland welcome Middlesbrough to the Stadium of Light as David Moyes looks to put up his first points on the board after going agonizingly close to a draw against the mighty Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. The Black Cats were well organized and kept their shape refusing to wilt under incessant City pressure. To be fair to them, they were successful in stopping City from scoring from open play as Aguero converted a penalty early on and former Manchester United man Paddy McNair bundled the ball into his own net minutes after coming on. The team showed clear signs of Moyes’s hallmark and the fans would be hoping they remain similarly solid and resilient throughout the campaign.
David Moyes has an enviable record against Middlesbrough. He has lost just twice against them in 14 matches and have won 7, drawing 5. This aligns with the fact that Sunderland are also unbeaten against Boro in their last 4 meetings having won 2 and drawn 2, thus giving fans real hope come Sunday.
David Moyes will have an opportunity to test his new recruits as early as the second week after Sunderland accepted a bid from Watford for wantaway defender Younes Kaboul. And with Lamine Kone sidelined with a back problem the stage is set for former Chelsea man Papy Djilobodji and former Manchester United defender Paddy McNair to form a new central defensive pair. Billy Jones (hip) and midfielders Lee Cattermole (hernia) and Jan Kirchhoff (knock) are still unavailable.
PREDICTED LINE-UP (4-2-3-1)
Vito Mannone will take up his spot between the posts. Donald Love had an impressive debut against Manchester City and will look to stake a claim for a permanent spot on the right. While the aforementioned injury issues and transfer outgoings pave the way for Papy Djilobodji and Paddy McNair to form a new-look defensive pair at the heart of the defence. Patrick Van Aanholt will provide width and attacking options from his left-back position.
Jack Rodwell and John O’Shea could keep their starting berths at the base of the midfield in the double pivot. Fabio Borini is likely to continue in the No.10 role behind the striker and he will hope to have a prolonged run in the team.
Adnan Januzaj and Wahbi Khazri both did well coming on as substitutes against Man City, so they may challenge Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch for starting positions out wide. Januzaj in particular will be an important player in the team and will look to resurrect his career under his former Manchester United boss who gave him his big break. Premier League warhorse Fabio Borini will lead the line and look to build on his finely taken goal at the Etihad.