Sunderland aim to build on their opening draw against Arsenal, with the hosts further boosted by the signing of Steven Fletcher from Wolverhampton. Reading, on the other hand, could find it hard to match their opponents at the Stadium of Light after giving their best in the 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in midweek.
Sunderland finally sign a recognized striker
Sunderland were punching well below their weight for most of the previous league campaign, although team’s showings improved significantly after Martin O’Neill replaced Steve Bruce at the helm. As a result, the Black Cats finished the season in 13th place, two points behind 10-placed West Brom, with a top half finish their main objective this season. The club chiefs did well to keep hold of star players Stephane Sessegnon, James McClean and Sebastian Larsson, while the squad were further reinforced with Carlos Cuellar, Louis Saha and Steven Fletcher. As a result, Sunderland produced a solid performance to bring one point from their opening game at the Emirates and they are now searching for their first win of the campaign. Having established themselves as a real force to be reckoned with at their Stadium of Light over the years, the Black Cats look like hot favourites to win this one.
New signing Steve Fletcher could make his debut against Reading, but Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown are expected to miss out.
Great showing at Stamford Bridge
Reading did themselves proud by winning the Championship title last term, but there was still a lot of work to be done in order to prepare for the Premier League campaign. Danny Guthrie, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Nicky Shorey, Adrian Mariappa, Chris Gunter and Stuart Taylor all arrived at Madejski Stadium, but the team have yet to really hit the ground running. After scoring from a penalty spot in the dying moments of their opening game against Stoke to salvage one point, the Royals played really well against Chelsea in midweek, but ended up recording a 4-2 defeat. As if that wasn’t enough, they now travel to Sunderland just three days later and they don’t have much reason for optimism before the game at the Stadium of Light. With so many new players arriving this summer, the team will need some time to gel, and that could prove to be a problem in a competition as unforgiving as the Premiership.
Striker Jason Roberts returns from suspension, but he could miss out due to lack of match fitness, whereas Jem Karacan and Jimmy Kebe remain sidelined.
Having finally addressed the main issue by signing Steven Fletcher, Sunderland look completely prepared for the game against Reading, a team that could feel the ill-effects of the draining midweek match against Chelsea. Therefore, I am tempted to back the Black Cats for the win here.
Our prediction: Home win
Odds: 1.95 (19/20)