Sunderland narrowly escaped relegation last season almost entirely down to Jermain Defoe. The veteran striker scored 15 of Sunderland’s 48 league goals last season, with defender Patrick van Aanholt trailing him with only 6 goals. Manager Sam Allardyce has left for the England job, and has been replaced by David Moyes. Moyes’ reputation has been tainted by his spell in charge of Manchester United, but he Sunderland is a similar job to what he had at Everton. Not having the pressure of managing one of the biggest clubs in the world could be what Moyes needs to rebuild his career. He has brought in a contingent of United youngsters, with Adnan Januzaj, Donald Love and Paddy McNair all joining the club. The Black Cats have got rid of a lot of deadwood, with Steven Fletcher, Wes Brown and Santiago Vergini amongst those to leave the club. Sunderland will need another striker capable of scoring more than 10 league goals if they are to improve on last year. Moyes will make sure that Sunderland will continue to be hard to beat, having also added Chelsea reject Papa Djilobodji to the defence. Despite playing Chelsea on the final game of the season, the rest of Sunderland’s run-in is against sides that will be in the relegation scrap, so their performances there will dictate the success of their season.
Key Man: Jermain Defoe. Sunderland’s top scorer last season, Defoe will again be integral to the Black Cats if they are to improve on last season’s 17th place finish. With only Fabio Borini as an alternative up front, Defoe will again have to provide the majority of Sunderland’s goals.
One to Watch: Jordan Pickford. The young stopper impressed on loan at Preston last season, equalling a club record of six consecutive clean sheets. With Sunderland struggling he was recalled in January and played three times and did not look out of his depth. With Vito Mannone as the club’s number one, it is likely that Pickford will get a chance to break through in to the first team this season.
Last Season: 17th