With just 3 days until deadline finally arrives, it’s time to finish off our projected XI series. They will all be completed by tomorrow, including the promoted sides. If anyone thought they had missed the Sunderland preview before Swansea, don’t worry, Seags is working on his alphabet!
The defence should be pretty settled. The right back may be up for grabs with Jones joining from West Brom following Bardsley’s departure, but Van Aanholt is locked on at left back. He’s started all of Sunderland’s past 3 friendlies and is good value at 4.5. I rate him over O’Shea and Brown, who should also be comfortable starters as Virgini isn’t all that special. The big question has been who will start in goals? For me, it’s pretty straight forward. On one hand, you don’t just become a starter because you have joined from a bigger club. On the other hand, you don’t just get benched after winning your teams player of the season. If you couldn’t guess, I reckon Mannone should win that race over Pantilimon. It’s his spot to lose.
After joining from City, Rodwell will slot straight into defensive midfield, with Cattermole being pushed to the bench. Giaccherini has been starting in the hole for most of pre-season, and should find himself the furthest forward of the midfield three. Larsson should slot in between them, with his passing game and set-pieces crucial to the Black Cats success. I wouldn’t consider any of them. Johnson can be deadly cutting in from the right with his rocket of a left foot, if only he could do it consistently. He scored 8 goals last season, 6 of which came in just a single month. He can be hot and cold at the best of times… And simply cold at the worst. I’d avoid temptation.
Fletcher is clearly ahead of Altidore when it comes to the striker position, however he can’t manage to stay fit. If he goes down, you can expect Wickham to take over the central role. He had an outstanding finish to last season, banging in 5 goals and 2 assists in just over 800 minutes. He has been looking deadly cutting in from the left during pre-season, and could be in for a breakout season. Definitely one worth watching at 6.0.
Consider: Mannone, Van Aanholt.
Wait & See: Wickham
Avoid: Pantilimon, Rodwell, Gomez, Johnson.
So that summarizes the Sunderland line-up, I’m not too keen on many of them. The Mannone and Krul rotation is still one to strongly consider. Seags will hopefully bring you the West Brom line-up tonight, but all teams will be completed by tomorrow. After the analysis of the forward options, we will begin to kick off our team reveals. Things are heating up, hopefully you’re all as excited as I am!