WILL DYER (@W2Dyer) delivered fabulous profit during Euro 2016. Here’s his take on a Super Sunday derby contest from the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough | Sunday 13.30 | Sky Sports 1
The tasty Wear-Tees north-east derby makes its return to the Premier League this Sunday – a fixture that hasn’t been played at this level since 2009.
Their head-to-head in the Premier League reads five wins to Middlesbrough, four to Sunderland and six draws.
Aitor Karanka’s men got off to a good start against Stoke last weekend, their first Premier League game since relegation back in 2009.
Prior to that Boro had been in the top-flight for 11 consecutive seasons and they’ve spent 60 of their 106 football league seasons at that level so this feels like a bit of a stalwart getting back to where they belong.
Alvaro Negredo scored with his first shot-on-target, just as he did on debut for Manchester City but Stoke rallied back in the second-half in what was a fiery game that saw eight yellow cards.
Sunderland were bystanders for a lot of the game against Manchester City but some dogged defending kept them in the game and eventually a chance fell to Jermain Defoe who, as usual, finished with aplomb.
The Black Cats only had a measly 23% possession but the goals they conceded were a penalty and an own-goal and I think David Moyes will take plenty of positives from the game.
Sunderland have been knocking on the door of relegation for around four years now. Their finishing places read 17th, 16th, 14th, 17th over the last four seasons but I think they may be about to get out of the woods.
Moyes has inherited a squad with experience and ability. I don’t believe it was just Big Sam’s influence that got Sunderland out of trouble last season.
The likes of Jack Rodwell, Jermain Defoe, Wahbi Khazri, Patrick van Aanholt, Jan Kirchhoff, Jeremain Lens and Lamine Kone are mid-table Premier League players in my opinion and when you throw in the exciting potential of Duncan Watmore, Adnan Januzaj, Jordan Pickford Donald Love and Lynden Gooch I think you have a really strong mix of players.
This squad has depth then, the kind that Hull City will be very envious of.
The Boro have made some really big captures for a promoted club in the shape of Victor Valdes, Alvaro Negredo, Jordan Rhodes and Viktor Fischer. Marten de Roon, Grant Leadbitter and Daniel Ayala are out injured.
That leaves a bit of a problem for Boro in the middle of the park with Adam Clayton available to play in Karanka’s favourite formation that needs two holding midfielders. It’s not catastrophic but it may change the way Boro approach this game.
Middlesbrough’s overall defensive record was exceptional last season. They conceded just 31 goals but Ayala is a first-choice centre-back and 23 of those goals were conceded on their travels, an average of 1.00 goal-a-game.
Both teams scored against better teams in Gameweek 1 and I think both have goals in them this season. I’ll back Both Teams To Score at 66/67 with Marathonbet.
I’m also backing Sunderland on the +0 Asian Handicap line at 13/16 with Betvictor. Having both Leadbitter and de Roon unavailable is not ideal for the Boro in a game that looks likely to be of fine margins.
This Asian Handicap selection works in exactly the same form as a punt on the Draw No Bet market – we’ll get our cash back if it’s a draw.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough – Both Teams To Score (66/67 Marathon)
Sunderland v Middlesbrough – Sunderland 0 Asian Handicap (13/16 BetVictor)