Sunderland host Manchester City on Sunday hoping to gain their first win of the Premier League season.
Steve Bruce’s side have not had the best of starts to the 2010-11 campaign. They were down to ten men just 43 minutes into the new season after Lee Cattermole was dismissed against Birmingham City before surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2. They then travelled to newly promoted West Bromwich Albion but a late strike from debutant Peter Odemwingie sent the Black Cats back to Wearside with their tails between their legs.
Sunderland have brought in a number of new players this season and a lot of players have been shown the exit door too. Defenders Marcos Angeleri, Titus Bramble and Cristian Riveros have moved to the Stadium of Light on permanent deals, while Simon Mignolet, John Mensah, Ahmed Al-Muhammadi and Danny Welbeck have joined the club on loan. Daryl Murphy and Lorik Cana have been shown the exit door, but the club’s big departure this summer is Kenwyne Jones after he joined Stoke City for £8 million.
Last season the Black Cats began in a rich vein of form, finding themselves in a Europa League place for the first couple of months of the season, but after a run of 14 league games without a win they were caught up in a relegation battle. They managed to survive but will have to do much better the rest of this season - starting against City on Sunday - to live up to Bruce’s aim of a top 10 finish this year.
Big spenders starting to show potential
Manchester City are expected to continue their good run of late against Sunderland this Sunday, but that was the case when these two sides met last season. Adam Johnson rescued Roberto Mancini’s men with a terrific goal in the last minute at the Stadium of Light to secure a 1-1.
Mancini’s negative tactics have been criticised since he took over at Eastlands last December, but they appear to be working so far this season. A 0-0 draw away to Tottenham was followed by a 3-0 win over Liverpool on Monday night, while they have progressed to the group stage of the Europa League after beating Timisoara 3-0 on aggregate.
City have splashed out over £100 million this summer and have now overtaken rivals Manchester United’s spending since the Premier League started. Jerome Boateng, Aleksandar Kolarov, Yaya Toure, James Milner, David Silva and Mario Balotelli have all been brought in as the club look to break into the top four and maybe even challenge for the title.
Mancini says there is no reason why his side can’t challenge for the Premier League crown this season, while a number of his players have played down expectations, insisting a spot in the Champions League is their aim. City’s boss is under pressure to succeed this season given the huge amount of money spent and will be desperate to build on their good start to the season with a win over Sunderland.
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Sunderland welcome back Lee Cattermole and Michael Turner after iscompleting their suspensions.
Nedum Onouha is unavailable to face his parent club, which means Anton Ferdinand may be given a surprise start despite reports linking with a move to Serie A.
John Mensah (hamstring) misses out, while Craig Gordon (arm) and George McCartney (ankle) are still not ready to return.
Possible starting XI: Mignolet; Al-Muhammadi, Da Silva, Bramble, Richardson; Henderson, Cattermole, Riveros, Malbranque; Campbell, Bent.
Mario Balotelli has missed City’s last two matches with a knee problem and will be assessed before a decision is made on his inclusion.
Wayne Bridge (toe) and summer signings Jerome Boateng (knee) and Aleksandar Kolarov (ankle) remain sidelined.
Joe Hart will continue in goal with Shay Given keeping his place on the bench as Mancini looks set to keep the same starting line-up that began against Liverpool.
Possible starting XI: Hart; Richards, K Toure, Kompany, Lescott; A Johnson, Y Toure, De Jong, Barry, Milner; Tevez.