Sunderland have only won one of their seven matches at the Stadium of Light this season, although the new manager factor means that the bookmakers are not prepared to offer evens or above about the Black Cats on Sunday.
The fact that Martin O’Neill’s team are playing Blackburn Rovers is also a factor, although it remains to be seen whether a best price of 19/20 (Coral – £30 free bet) represents value considering that Rovers arrive off the back of a 4-2 win over Swansea City.
O’Neill might have achieved success with Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa, although he inherits a mediocre Sunderland side from Steve Bruce which lacks real firepower to the extent that the manager is looking into the possibility of bringing Asamoah Gyan back.
It is likely to be Nicklas Bendtner and Stephane Sessegnon that lead the line for the Wearside club and the former will be trying to put himself in the shop window for when the transfer window opens again – he’s a 6/1 chance to open the scoring.
Even so, Steve Kean will be looking for his team to spoil O’Neill’s big day and Rovers have shown genuine signs of improvement in recent weeks. They really should have won at Norwich when relinquishing a two-goal lead and were full value for that win against the Swans. The visitors are on offer at 7/2 (bet365 – £200 free betting).
All eyes will be on Yakubu after a brilliant four-goal salvo for Blackburn last weekend and the Nigerian is on offer at 7/1 to get his team off the mark in this game, with Rovers knowing that a win will help them leapfrog their opponents and out of the relegation zone.
O’Neill has stated that his new team need to start winning at all costs and we might witness a tight encounter settled by just one goal. The Black Cats are a 7/1 chance to win 1-0 and give themselves some breathing space.