Date: 6th August 2015 at 7:26pm
Written by:

Formed: 1879 Manager: Dick Advocaat Stadium: Stadium of Light Capacity: 49,000 Previous years in Premier League: 14 Last 3 seasons: 2014/15: 16th 2013/14: 14th 2012/13: 17th Best finish: 7th (1999/00 and 00/01) Opening day fixture: Leicester (A), Aug 8 Final day fixture: Watford (A), May 15

This season’s aim:

20 May 2015 - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Sunderland - Dick Advocaat manager / head coach of Sunderland celebrates retaining Premier League status with a 0-0 draw against Arsenal - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

After narrowly avoiding relegation in three successive seasons, the aim for Sunderland will ultimately be to make sure they aren’t involved in the scrap at the bottom. If the club want to push on under Dick Advocaat, who came in and helped them retain their Premier League status at the end of last season, they must make changes to their playing staff, and score more goals. The Black Cats scored a measly 31 goals in 38 top-flight matches last season – only relegated Burnley netted less – and they will hope that new-boy Jeremain Lens can provide a real goal threat alongside the experienced Jermain Defoe. The Mackems still need more reinforcements before the transfer window closes next month and it will be interesting to see what business they do over the coming weeks because, as things stand, they are set to struggle again.

Transfers in:

14 January 2015 - The FA Cup 3rd Round (Replay)  - Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Younes Kaboul of Tottenham Hotspur - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Santiago Vergini (Estudiantes), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Adam Matthews (Celtic), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham)

Transfers Out: El-Hadji Ba (Charlton Athletic), Anthony Reveillere (Released), Santiago Vergini (Getafe), Jordan Pickford (Preston), Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace)

Star player: Jermain Defoe

20 May 2015 - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Sunderland - Jermain Defoe of Sunderland - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

The prolific striker has been scoring regularly in the Premier League for more than 10 years now, and Sunderland will need his goals more than ever this season. After three successive years of struggles, the Black Cats are once again likely to be among the relegation contenders and know they must improve on their goalscoring. Only relegated Burnley scored less than Dick Advocaat’s side in the top-flight last season, and the hope will be that the 32-year-old can build on his four goals in 14 appearances since moving back to England from MLS outfit Toronto in January.

Shoot’s Sunderland blogger: Josh Carr

Blogger’s view: “It’s always tough to be optimistic as a Sunderland fan as we’re so often let down. Hopefully we’ll gain a bit of stability. A season without a relegation battle would be nice with 12/13th upwards being classed as a half decent season. Advocaat knows what he wants and the players know what he wants. With a bit of luck it will all click on the field. The defence is still worrying. O’Shea and Brown are prone to lapses of concentration which seem to let us down season after season. In attack, Jeremain Lens could be a key player this season. I’ve heard big things, but then again I heard big things about Ignacio Scocco…remember him?

Blogger’s key man: Jeremain Lens

Shoot Says: Relegation candidates

Brought to you by Shoot!