Sunderland-West Brom Preview

RYAN WILLOX (STATS Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Sunderland hope to pick up where they left off when they visit West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the new Premier League campaign.

The Black Cats secured an eighth consecutive season of top-flight football by winning five of their final six matches last term to end a turbulent year on a high note.

Manager Gus Poyet is looking for his revamped squad to maintain the momentum as he enters his first full season in charge at the Stadium of Light.

Ten players were allowed to leave while Brighton and Hove Albion winger Will Buckley, Wigan Athletic midfielder Jordi Gomez and West Brom defender Billy Jones were among seven new additions.

Poyet will be looking for his established players to set the standard for the new arrivals as they attempt to begin this campaign on the front foot.

"The good time we had stopped because the season finished, but we talk a lot about momentum and there are a few players, the players who have been there at the end of the season that finished playing with the feeling of being unbeatable practically," Poyet told the official Premier League website.

"I hope that we take it into this season because it is very, very important that we start well in the Premier League. If you do not, what happened to us last season can happen and, like I said in the beginning, I do not want to suffer again."

The Baggies had to rely on others to keep them in the Premier League on the final day of the season, and while relegation relied on several unlikely scenarios, the threat of demotion still proved too close for comfort.

After Pepe Mel's tenure was cut short a mere four months in, former Sheffield Wednesday manager Alan Irvine was appointed head coach in June.

There have also been wholesale changes to the Baggies squad this summer with the club shattering their transfer record to sign striker Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kiev for an estimated 10 million pounds.

Ideye joins eight other new faces at The Hawthorns, including Craig Gardner and Joleon Lescott, but the Midlands outfit are still among the early favourites to be relegated.

People will be looking at it and thinking we've got a difficult job," Irvine told the official club website. "They know what happened last season.

"The only thing that changes that is us getting the right results. We can worry about the past and what people are saying or we can get on with the work - and hopefully get the right results."

Both James Morrison and Lescott are out through knee injuries for the Baggies while Gareth McAuley (calf) faces a race to be ready in time.

Jones (hamstring) will miss out on a competitive debut against his former side following his free transfer and the Black Cats will also be without Emanuele Giaccherini (groin).

The sides split their meetings last season, with the Baggies winning 3-0 at home in September through goals from Stephane Sessegnon, Liam Ridgewell and Morgan Amalfitano. The Black Cats responded with a 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light in May that secured their Premier League status. Jack Colback and Fabio Borini scored first-half goals in that game.That triumph was their first victory over West Brom since 2008.

What to Read Next