Sunderland V Birmingham City
Stadium of Light
So the long wait is finally over! The new season has arrived and the transfer window has been manic as usual for all us dedicated Sunderland fans! Eight new arrivals in total with even more to come in the next fortnight. We have lost a few key players also so it will be a tough start at home to Birmingham as they look to continue their great start from last season.
Steve Bruce has removed most of the deadwood and players who 'were not up for the fight' and replaced them with hungry players aiming to prove a point.
This game will see Lee Cattermole as captain with an almost completely new back five due to Turner missing the game through suspension.
Vital Quotes: Steve Bruce
'There's always a feelgood factor at the start of the season. It's been a difficult pre-season with the World Cup, with injuries and transfers and all the rest of it.
'But there's nothing quite like the first game of the season and, even though we've had a terrible July and August, they'll be hot and we'll look forward to the challenge again.''
Sunderland Team News:
The main injury concern for Sunderland is whether or not Darren Bent is fully fit or not. He was sent back from the England training camp with an injured back and has had since Wednesday to recover for the opening game.
Bruce will also be without Turner and Colback due to them both being suspended.
Simon Mignolet will start in goal to cover the injured Craig Gordon and then the team should look like this:
Bent (if fit)
Player to watch: Mensah
Although Sunderland have signed a lot of new talent this season, the arrival of John Mensah is the most significant for this season. He was brilliant last season, but suffered missing a lot of games through injury.
During the World Cup with Ghana he was also impressive before his missed spot kick sent them home in the quarter-finals. If Mensah can stay fit we have a reliable defender to call upon at all times.
Birmingham Team News:
Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips will miss this game sadly due to suffering a serious thigh problem in pre season.
Birmingham City are also sweating on the fitness of new signing Ben Foster from Man Utd but say he could pass a late fitness test.
Player to watch: Zigic
Sunderland's defenders will have their work cut out as they have to mark the 6ft 8inch Serbian forward Nikola Zigic on Saturday.
Birmimgham signed him for £6m this summer and could prove to be a real handful for Mensah.
Match Facts & Stats
Sunderland became the first side to have nine players sent off in a Premier League season in 2009/10.
Birmingham scored just three headed goals last season, which was fewer than any team in the top flight.
The overall record between the sides in 115 matches is 52 wins for Sunderland, 41 for Birmingham and 22 draws.
Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistant referees: Andy Garratt & Dave Bryan Fourth official: Chris Foy
Sunderland 2-1 Birmingham I feel this is an important game for the club to get the team united together for the first time and get points on the board. If we start with Darren Bent this could be the deciding factor but even if he is not fully fit I feel we have enough at home to win this game.
Next Fixtures: West Brom
Sunderland head to the Hawthorns to visit newly promoted West Brom next Saturday.