The Premier League finally returns to our homes and our hearts this weekend. After a summer filled with World Cup action, Suarez’s annual bite saga, James Rodriguez’s epic transfer to Real Madrid and Louis van Gaal sending United fans everywhere into overdrive by clinching the historic Guinness Cup, it’ll be nice to get back to some good old-fashioned Premier League action this Saturday with Sunderland travelling to the Hawthorns to take on last season’s fellow struggler’s West Brom in their first match of the campaign.
Jack Colback and Fabio Borini, neither of whom play for Sunderland anymore, each scored within the first 45 minutes to give the Black Cats a 2-0 win on 7th May last season at the Stadium of Light.
Former Baggie Billy Jones will not be able to make his debut for Sunderland against his former club, as he is out with a hamstring injury. Winger Emmanuel Giaccherini has also been ruled out for the Black Cats with a groin strain picked up against Real Betis in pre-season.
- No team had more draws last season than West Brom, with 15.
- The teams first met in 1890 in League Division One, with Sunderland running out 4-0 winners that day.
- Head-to-head: SUN:53 WBA:57 D:40
West Bromwich Albion – Saido Berahino
The England U-21 international enjoyed a fruitful first full campaign at the Hawthorns, scoring 5 goals over the course of the season to top the WBA goalscoring charts for last season along with Stephan Sessegnon. This was despite having played only 1405 minutes as compared to Sessegnon’s 1961. Berahino will have increased competition for the striker spot in Alan Irvine’s set-up with Brown Ideye coming in as WBA’s marquee signing this summer, but the youngster can better his chances with a strong performance against the Black Cats.
Sunderland – Jack Rodwell
The former Manchester City player will likely start at the Hawthorns if he manages to keep fit till Saturday, having been involved in pre-season both with City and Sunderland so far. The 23 year old from Southport is in desperate need of a kick-start to his career, and some game time with Sunderland might be just what he needs to hit the play button on a promising career that has stalled over the last two seasons. The Black Cats’ marquee summer signing at £10m, a lot will be expected of the former Evertonian, but he has the potential to be a powerful force in the Sunderland midfield this season as they look to avoid the relegation scrap they were part of last season.
Projected Starting XIs
Sunderland: Mannone – Vergini, Brown, O’Shea, Van Aaanholt – Cattermole;Rodwell – Johnson, Gomez, Giaccherini – Fletcher.
WBA: Foster – Wisdom; McAuley, Lescott, Pocognoli; Gamboa – Morrison, Brunt, Berahino – Ideye, Sessegnon.
Alan Irvine will want to get his tenure as manager off to a winning start at home, and with the Sunderland squad not fully ready yet with a few key players yet to make their return, expect a narrow win for the Baggies on Saturday.
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