Sunderland vs Middlesbrough: Preview & Prediction
An early season North-East derby to look forward to this weekend as Sunderland look to kick-start their new campaign under David Moyes.
For Aitor Karanka’s squad, this is their first derby clash back in the top-flight since 2012. Boro will be looking to build upon their last meeting with the Black Cats, which ended in a 1-0 victory away at the Stadium of Light.
Middlesbrough have been busy during the transfer period with recent acquisitions in the form of Premier League old-boys Alvaro Negredo and Gaston Ramirez, who both bring sufficient top-flight pedigree after their spells with Manchester City and Southampton respectively.
It is signings like this that the North-East outfit hope will make the difference come crunch time at the end of the season, as many expect them to be there or thereabouts in the relegation dog-fight.
Sunderland, on the other hand, have recruited closer to home under Moyes as they’ve delved into Manchester United’s squad, bringing in the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Paddy McNair and Donald Love into the team.
The Black Cats will also take confidence coming into the fixture after their narrow defeat last week to title contenders Manchester City.
For many of these young signings, this season presents an opportunity to make their mark on the Premier League in a Sunderland team with much to prove after the departure of Sam Allardyce.
Middlesbrough have no real injury concerns except Grant Leadbitter, who is recovering from a Hernia operation over the summer.
Meanwhile, Sunderland’s injury list remains hefty as major names from last season are still on the sidelines.
Sebastian Larsson, Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff are all long-term casualties who won’t return to first-team action until the near-future.
League Positions: Sunderland- 16th (0pts); Middlesbrough- 9th (1pt)
Previous Meetings: Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbrough (October 30, 2012)
League Form: Sunderland -DWWDL; Middlesbrough – DDDDD
Key Men: Sunderland – Jermain Defoe; Middlesbrough- Alvaro Negredo
Shoot Says: Sunderland 1-0 Middlesbrough