Last season: 10th
FA Cup: Third round
Carling Cup: Third round
Opening three fixtures: Liverpool (a), Newcastle (h), Swansea (a)
Transfers in: Ahmed Elmohamady (ENPPI, £2m), Conor Wickham (Ipswich, £8.1m, rising to £12.5m), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham, free), Kieran Westwood (Coventry, free), Ji Dong-won (Chunnam Dragons, £2.1m), Craig Gardner (Birmingham, £4.5m, rising to £6m), David Vaughan (Blackpool, free), Wes Brown (Manchester United, £5m), John O’Shea (Manchester United, £1m), Roarie Deacon (Arsenal, free)
Transfers out: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool, £16m), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor, loan), Steed Malbranque (St Etienne, undisclosed) Jean Yves Mvoto (Oldham, undisclosed), Nathan Luscombe (Hartlepool, undisclosed), Robbie Weir (Tranmere, undisclosed), Michael Kay (Tranmere, undisclosed), Liam Noble (Carlisle, loan)
Key man: Asamoah Gyan
To win handicap title (+31 points from Man Utd at scratch): 18/1
Boss Steve Bruce has brought in a number of solid signings, such as experienced duo Wes Brown and John O’Shea, along with Craig Gardner and the exciting young striker Conor Wickham. The Black Cats finished tenth last year and with these additions they are in for another good season. And with a +31-point mark from Man Utd in bwin’s Premier League title handicap market, they could be right up there for this accolade come May at a tempting 18/1.
To finish above Newcastle & Fulham: 17/10
After losing Kevin Nolan and possibly Joey Barton, Newcastle are a club in turmoil and will surely struggle this season. Meanwhile, Fulham have a poor record on the road and their involvement in the Europa League could prove a distraction. With this in mind, odds of 17/10 on Sunderland to finish above these two certainly look appealing.
Premier League top goalscorer odds: Asamoah Gyan at 50/1
The Ghanaian can build on his ten goals from 31 appearances last year and take the Premier League by storm. He averages a goal every other game for Ghana, which underlines his scoring prowess. At 50/1, it seems unlikely that the powerful front man will eclipse the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres, but Gyan has bags of talent and is definitely one to watch this season.
It may take a few weeks for all the new signings to gel but once they do I expect the Black Cats to be a real force at the Stadium of Light. If Bruce can add a few more goals to the team they will cement themselves as the number one side in the north-east, with a possible top-eight finish on the cards.
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