Sunday August 13th - Norwich City (1.30pm K/O)
Manager: Daniel Farke - Norwich appear to be trying to steal inspiration from the current trend of hiring former Borussia Dortmund coaches. Farke was Dortmund’s reserve team manager last season, and the Canaries will be eager to see if he can replicate fellow countryman David Wagner’s success.
Stadium: Carrow Road - Capacity 27,224
Away Allocation: 2,500
Most memorable game: It’s difficult to decide if the most recent visit to Norwich is our most memorable trip - a 3-0 win and sticking a dagger in Norwich and Newcastle's survival chances - or if our 4-1 League Cup win in 2009 was better simply for that Newcastle fan who looked like he was gonna bubble into tears live on Sky. Both games were memorable and emphatic, so they can share the honours.
Worst result: We lost 1-0 in a cup final to Norwich, so it deserves to be our worst result to the Canaries, even if it technically wasn't an 'away game'. In a match they dominated, Norwich won 1-0 thanks to an Asa Hartford deflected finish. We missed a penalty too. And Steve Bruce was the Norwich captain.
Our record: 6 wins in 31 games in all competitions. Yikes! Not a good record considering Norwich have never really been a force to be reckoned with.
Last League Visit, 3-0 win, 16th April 2016, Borini, Defoe & Watmore
Wednesday August 16th - Sheffield Wednesday (7.45pm K/O)
Manager: Carlos Carlvalhal - Sheffield Wednesday is the 16th club Carvalhal has managed in his long career, or at least according to Wikipedia anyway. He has managed to turn Sheffield Wednesday into a credible force and they will surely be promotion contenders this season.
Stadium: Hillsbrough - Capacity 39,732
Away Allocation: 3,700 (max 8,000)
Most memorable game: A Super Kev double gave us a splendid 2-0 victory in Yorkshire towards the end of the 1999-00 season. Sunderland headed to 4 wins in 5 games and wanted to push for a European place. Happy days! Sheffield Wednesday were pushed closer to the brink with defeat. How times have changed.
Worst result: Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Sunderland in March 1997. A bullet to the chest in our run for survival in 1996-97. We managed to take the lead through Kevin Ball but threw it all away - a key defeat in our hopes for survival.
Our record: 16 wins in 61 away trips. Not bad considering we drew 29 of those games too.
Last League Visit - 4-2 win, January 20th 2006 - Yorke, Hysen, Connolly & Edwards
Saturday August 26th - Barnsley (3pm K/O)
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom - the former Sunderland academy product who played zero games for the club. Heckingbottom is actually doing a pretty decent job at this whole management thing. He has taken Barnsley up and kept them up, and it will be interesting to see if any big clubs come hunting for the Barnsley boss.
Stadium: Oakwell - Capacity 23,009
Away allocation: 6,000
Most memorable game: The last time we visited Barnsley was quite simply a magical day. We marched into Barnsley on our way to the Premier League backed by 8-10,000 people. We had Roy Keane. We had a team of grafters. And we won 2-0. Beeeeeeautiful.
Worst result: 24th March 1995. We headed to Barnsley on a 3 game losing run, looking like we might be relegated to the third tier. And we lost 2-0. Luckily Peter Reid came in for our next game and the next 7 years were much better. But still, I cannot imagine the depression amongst those who went to that game at Oakwell.
Our record: 5 wins 1 draw and 6 defeats at Oakwell. Solid yet unspectacular. Though we have won our previous 2 games at this stadium and both were magical.
Last League Visit - 2-0, March 10th 2007, Leadbitter & Connolly
Saturday September 16th - Hull City (3pm K/O)
Manager: Leonid Slutsky - the former Russia manager heads into his first job outside the comforts of his own country. An interesting appointment at Hull, but will he have the same positive impact as his predecessor Marco Silva?
Stadium: K-Com stadium - 25,450
Away Allocation: 2,510
Most memorable game: I was torn between our 4-1 win in 2008-09 and our 1-0 win in 2006-07. The 4-1 was good because we had just lost Roy Keane, and we were fearing the worst. Then we hammered in form Hull 4-1. The 1-0 in 2006-07 featured a last minute winner and further increased our love affair with Roy Keane and the magic carpet ride we were heading on under Niall Quinn. So they can share the honours.
Worst Game: 2 contenders from the same season. 9 man Sunderland lose 1-0 to Hull away. Or a FA Cup quarter final defeat where Gus Poyet decides to play the reserves and we lose 3-0. Probably side with the cup game since it cost us a place at Wembley.
Our record: 8 wins 4 draws and 8 defeats at the K-Com and Hulls previous stadium Boothferry Park.
Writers note - Hull has the accolade of worst football chant ever with 'Mauled By The Tigers' coupled with cat like movements. Embarrassing.
Last League Visit - 2-0 win, May 6th 2017 - Billy Jones & Jermain Defoe
Tuesday 26th September: Ipswich Town (7.45pm K/O)
Manager: Mick McCarthy - A proper Yorkshireman who took no shit from no one; I loved Mick Mac. Good man, top manager and took Sunderland through a terrible financial period and managed a promotion. He has been at Ipswich for 5 years now and has stabilised them through a difficult period.
Stadium - Portman Road - Capacity - 30,311
Away Allocation - 2,000
Memorable game - Our record at Ipswich is not really ideal in modern times. We won there in the FA Cup our 2003-04 run to the semis. But the game of most importance was our 2-0 win in the 1998-99 season. Super Kev bagged a goal against the club he nearly joined before Sunderland, and we continued our unbeaten start to the season before eventually running away with the title. Excellent times.
Worst game - We took an absolute twatting off Ipswich in the 2001-02 season. 5-0. It was 4-0 after 31 minutes. Not much else needs to be said. Current Blyth Spartans manager Alun Armstrong scored a brace that day.
Our record - 5 wins out of 24 games. Not ideal. And we have lost 15 of those games too. Again, not ideal.
Last League Visit - 3-1 loss, September 23rd 2006, De Vos OG