Kick Off: 15:00pm GMT, 13th August 2016
Venue: St Mary's Stadium, Southampton
Referee: Lee Mason
Last Season: Saints 1 - 1 SAFC
Dafabet Odds: Saints - 8/13 Draw - 11/4 Sunderland - 5/1
For some bizarre reason I feel quietly confident about Sunderland's chances this weekend at Southampton, and I'm not quite sure why.
I mean, we've hardly had anything remotely positive to cling on to since the season started, and we lost our first two games, so really I have no idea why I feel so good ahead of what is one of the most testing away fixtures of the campaign. I just do.
Wednesday night felt a bit like a pre-season friendly, and I suppose in a roundabout way the outcome of the game somewhat reflected the type of performance that you'd expect if you were on a jaunt abroad playing a lower-league Austrian team. We got players on the pitch that needed game time - particularly the new lads - and we saw a mix of youth and experience that can only have benefited everyone that took part, even despite the fact that we actually played quite poorly.
Southampton have had a fairly flat start to the season themselves, drawing on the opening day at home to Watford before being beaten comfortably last weekend by Manchester United, and like ourselves the Saints are in search of their first league win of the season.
They also experienced uncertainty this summer, with key players and a manager leaving, and now find themselves in a similar sort of period in which we seem to be in, albeit with a far stronger playing squad.
This is why, I think, I have optimism that we might be able to get something there tomorrow. Southampton are yet to hit their stride, and Sunderland always seem to fare better when we are the underdogs.
David Moyes' pre-match press conference brought us more good news than bad for once, and when the team enter the pitch at St Mary's Stadium this weekend it might be slightly stronger than we might have imagined at the beginning of the week, with a number of players facing late fitness tests ahead of the game.
Lets wait and see. Sunderland always surprise us when we least expect it and, taking into account just how mental this summer has been, I wouldn't be shocked if we were talking on Saturday evening about a rousing Sunderland victory - stranger things have happened.
Sunderland have a number of first team players that will face late fitness tests before David Moyes decides on his team for tomorrow's game - Lamine Kone, John O'Shea, Steven Pienaar, Jeremain Lens and Fabio Borini could all play at St Mary's tomorrow providing things go well.
Vito Mannone and Seb Larsson are long term absentees, but on a more positive note we should see the debut of Javi Manquillo at right back.
Predicted XI: Pickford, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Manquillo, Rodwell, Gooch, Pienaar, Januzaj, Borini, Defoe.
Moyes on injuries:
John O'Shea has done a little bit of light training, we don't think his hip is as bad as it was. He will be assessed.
Kone is the same, he has done some light work and will be assessed. Fabio Borini, he had a problem with his foot, he trained yesterday and we are waiting to see if there is any reaction. Some of the injuries were already there, Catts' double hernia, Seb's knee.
Jan Kirchhoff has started some light training, we hope he maybe back in next week with the football work.
If Lamine is fit enough and in the right frame of mind, I have to consider it with what we have got.
Steven did well to keep the ball, even he came off with a little niggle behind his knee. He is another one we are assessing for the game tomorrow. We have had to push him into two intense 60 minutes, it has taken its toll, we have to try and hope he is okay as well.
Jeremain Lens bruised his foot, he ran in and caught his foot on the post. He ran yesterday but didn't kick the ball because of the bruise on his foot. He would have played Wednesday night, that knocked me down with another injury.
We are assessing so many, the games come up so quickly.
I'm sticking to my guns and making a positive prediction again this week. Though our back line changes more than my kegs, it should be a far more solid defence and 'keeper than we have seen in the last two games and I have faith in our attacking players to score goals. I'm going for a 2-1 Sunderland win, with Defoe and Asoro scoring.