CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) shares his verdict from Friday night's curtain-raiser between Sunderland and Derby.
Sunderland v Derby | Friday 4th August 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The 2017/18 Football League season kicks-off with the rather unappealing fixture of Sunderland v Derby on Friday night…
If there’s going to be a better time to visit the Stadium of Light this season, it’ll mean the Black Cats are doing even worse than many are predicting.
Simon Grayson takes over the reigns and although I’d back him to do well on Wearside, long-term things may well get harder before they improve. The turmoil’s of last season are well-documented – winning just six games, three of which arrived at home.
Few standout stars for Sunderland
Of the 29 goals Sunderland scored, the now departed Jermain Defoe grabbed 15. I could carry on but we all know the picture is far from rosy in the north-east.
The squad Grayson has inherited is poor; it’s almost completely made up of utility squad fillers and so far the incoming transfers have done little to change that. Aiden McGeady stands out as a good piece of business but even then, he’s the wrong side of 30.
On the plus side, there’s plenty of money from Jordan Pickford’s move to Everton still to spend. Ross McCormack has been linked and they are in desperately need of someone to score goals as there aren’t many forthcoming from the current set of strikers.
Rams hoping for promotion raid
Derby once more enter August with hopes of promotion and once more they could go one of two ways. In Gary Rowett they could just have the right man at the helm.
It’s become the norm over the last few seasons to be constantly spending big on new players, particularly in attacking areas, but that’s not been the case so far this summer.
Tom Ince and Will Hughes have both departed for big money after long being touted as being key to gaining promotion. Rams fans may disagree but the departure of those two could just prove to work in their favour.
County have so far been quiet but efficient in the transfer market. Tom Huddlestone and Curtis Davies have arrived from Hull to solidify the spine of the team in addition to Andre Wisdom from Liverpool.
In attack it’s as you were with the exception of Chris Martin returning from his strange loan at Fulham. Cutting down on attacking options, along with the continuality of said options should be beneficial. At least until they sign a couple of big money replacements in the next few weeks…
The betting angle
I was surprised to see Sunderland made such heavy favourites considering the mess they’re in. They last won at home way back in December and I see no reason for that to change all of a sudden.
Derby’s form at the back end of the season after Rowett took charge was decent enough – a record of W4-D3-L2 – but they did score in eight of the nine with Both Teams To Score landing on seven occasions.
Derby getting on the scoresheet wouldn’t be a surprise but there’s too much of a question mark on Sunderland doing so to make the 13/15 (10BET) on BTTS attractive.
Sunderland v Derby – Derby draw no bet (5/4 Marathon)