Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at Sunderland’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.
Manager: Martin O’Neill.
Captain: Lee Cattermole.
Stadium: Stadium of Light (48,707).
Last season: 13th.
Leading scorer (PL): Nicklas Bendtner (8).
Odds: Title 500-1. Relegation 9-1.
In: Carlos Cuellar (Free, Sunderland), Louis Saha (Free, Tottenham).
Out: Marcos Angeleri (Undisc., Estudiantes), Liam Bagnall (Released), James Brace (Released), Trevor Carson (Free, Bury), Jordan Cook (Free, Charlton), Bred Elliot (Released), Craig Gordon (Released), Asamoah Gyan (£6.6m, Al-Ain FC) Lewis King (Released), Jordan Lavender (Released), Mark Liddle (Free, Accrington) George McCartney (Free, West Ham), Cristian Riveros (£254k, Kayserispor), Oumare Tounkara (Released), Michael Turner (£1.6m, Norwich).
Key Man – Stephane Sessegnon
The Benin international was Sunderland’s player of the year last season, assisting nine and scoring seven goals, but he contributed more than just the goals. With his pace and dribbling skills, Sessegnon is the man charged with making things happen at the Stadium of Light and the fans will be hoping that he replicates his form of last season this term.
18-Aug – Arsenal (A)
25-Aug – Reading (H)
01-Sep – Swansea (A)
15-Sep – Liverpool (H)
22-Sep – West Ham (A)
29-Sep – Wigan (H)
Probable Formation (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; O’Shea, Cuellar, Brown, Bardsley; Larsson, Cattermole, Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon; Saha.
Verdict: Martin O’Neill produced the positive impact on his appointment last season, and the Black Cats will continue to improve in all areas. Stephane Sessegnon one of the best season of his life and its a mystery why no bigger club has taken him away from Sunderland. The Black Cats haven’t made any big signings, so far, this summer and that’s a big worry. The striker position needs to be filled as Fraizer Campbell, Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham are not at all first-choice strikers and should be backups to a top striker. The signing of Louis Saha is a good one but his fitness is an issue and I can’t see the Black Cats finishing in the top 8 unless they sign Steven Fletcher or any other goal-scorer, who can guaruntee them 15 goals per season.