Steve Bruce was left stunned in January when Darren Bent told the Sunderland manager that he wanted to leave the club, especially with Aston Villa the outfit that were prepared to stump up £18 million for the England forward.
Bent scored 32 goals in 58 league starts for the Black Cats, something which had him well on the way to legendary status on Wearside, with Bruce claiming that all sorts of scoring records could have been broken.
Bruce said: “He could have been, in my opinion, one of the greats of Sunderland, and I’m talking about up there with the very best goal-scorers in the club’s history, if he had hung around. He would have broken a lot of records”.
Instead, Bent will now try to etch his name into Villa folklore and the forward is among the favourites to score first on Saturday, with bet365 (£200 free bets) offering 11/2 that he breaks the deadlock.
Alex McLeish’s side were unbeaten before they played their last two Premier League matches, although successive defeats against Manchester City and West Brom mean that they have slipped into the bottom half of the table and Sunderland can leapfrog them if they follow up their recent win at Bolton with another three points.
It is the home side that are the favourites at 5/4 (Stan James – £150 free bets) although it hasn’t paid to back the north-east side at those sort of prices in 2011, especially as their four home matches thus far have seen them win just one game.
The Villans are searching for their first away win of the season in the Premier League and you can get 13/5 that they are victorious although Barry Bannan has been left out of the squad after a recent motorway crash which has landed the youngster in hot water.