The Black Cats just avoided relegation, can they do it again? Here’s a look over their best XI…
Pantilimon won the battle against Mannone last season, and he is clearly their number one option going into the 2015/16 campaign. Safe selection.
Van Aanholt will lock down the left back role, but his 5 assists were enough to see his price bumped up to 5.0, shame. On the other flank Jones should be secure at right back with Reveillere no longer at the club.
O’Shea should be a lock at centre back. He will be partnered by either Kaboul, Brown or Coates. After signing from Tottenham I’d suspect Kaboul is going to be first choice. Other than that there’s not much competition for spots in defence! Perhaps stability is a good thing, they’ve proven to be tough to break down in the past.
A big reason for their defensive solidarity is Cattermole. He does the dirty work in midfield, just don’t consider him for your fpl squads (Even at 4.5)! Larsson is their primary set piece taker and has reaped the rewards in the past. Unfortunately his contributions from open play don’t match. He could be partnered by Gomez or Rodwell, depending on how attacking Advocaat wants to set up his team. Giaccherini will also contest for a spot in both central and wide areas, however he has never quite found his feet in the EPL.
Jeremain Lens is Sunderland’s marquee signing, and will be a secure starter on the left wing. He is a known goalscorer and should come under strong consideration at 6.5. Johnson is likely to cut in from the right hand side, their wingers will be hugely important to achieve their goals this season. They haven’t had a reliable goalscorer for a while now, it’s about time someone stepped up.
With Wickham seemingly on the way to Crystal Palace, Sunderland are left short on strikers. Defoe looks like he will lead the line this season, but I can’t see him scoring more than 10 goals. Fletcher is a decent player but not the match winner they require. Goals may be a struggle for them this season. I didn’t mention Graham, but for good reason.
50/50: Lens is the only Sunderland offensive option that I would give consideration. The major worry I have is Sunderland’s lack of cutting edge in the front half of the pitch. Can Lens do it on his own? Judging by their player list at the moment, it looks like he will have to. 6.5 is just enough to keep him on my watchlist, but too much to have me making room for him in my initial squad. He can join a number of midfielders I consider too risky to gamble on, but need to be monitored.
Lock: You’ll be shocked to know I don’t consider any Sunderland players to be locks. Funnily enough though, I have one for my own squad. Pantilimon always finds his way back into my team, their kind fixtures provide the opportunity for early clean sheets.
Avoid: Johnson has a one month period every season when he tempts managers into selecting him. He has always shown promise but hasn’t been able to take that next step, his consistency is deplorable. Johnson goes missing far too often and I’d avoid him in your initial drafts.
Breakout: I really can’t see much young talent that jumps off the screen. Wickham was a young talent with the potential to explode, but he looks to be heading for the exit door. He is certainly a breakout candidate. Buckley has briefly shown promise on the wings, if he gets some starts ahead of Johnson then he has the potential to become a cheap option at 5.0.
Swansea are next up, only 4 teams to go! Starting today we are releasing our previews on the newly promoted sides, they are separate from the projected XI’s. By the end of the week you’ll have all the info you need! Just 5 days to go, my brain is starting to tick into overdrive…