Why Sunderland v Middlesbrough could be a thriller as football returns to Stadium of Light

The first home game of the season is always eagerly anticipated and with local rivals Middlesbrough providing the opposition, that will add spice to the occasion.

Monday, 15th August 2016, 5:25 pm
Updated Monday, 15th August 2016, 6:29 pm
Alvaro Negredo celebrates with team mates after scoring for Boro at the Riverside on Saturday

With Newcastle relegated, the games with Boro take on the mantle of our big derby games this campaign and if there is one thing Sunderland have been consistently good at over the last few years, then it is derby games.

However, promoted teams early in the season are always dangerous and Sunderland only have to look at last year’s opening home game, which was also against a newly promoted team in Norwich, and ended in a dismal 3-1 defeat.

Of the three promoted teams, I think Boro have the best chance of survival as they haven’t been afraid to invest this summer and the loan signing of Alvaro Negredo, in particular, has taken the eye.

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I have also been impressed with manager Aitor Karanka, who after missing out on the play-offs the year before, went one better and led his team up.

That was despite having a well-publicised fallout last season before a U-turn but thankfully for the Teessiders it all ended well.

So, David Moyes will know Boro can’t be taken lightly and as it is his first home game in charge, he will be desperate to get the season up and running after the City defeat.

That defeat wasn’t unexpected but this game is different, these are the type of games Sunderland need to win and the pressure will be on.

Boro got their first point on the board against Stoke last Saturday and their team and fans will travel up the A19 in good spirits and they will see this game as one they can get points from.

Sunderland too will see Sunday’s game as a winnable one and if the team can produce the form they produced in the last two games at the Stadium of Light last season - against Chelsea and Everton - then we could be in for a thriller in our derby this weekend.