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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg

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Score Predictions: Will Sunderland take all three points on the opening day?

The circus returns today as Sunderland kick-off the 2021-22 campaign at the Stadium of Light against Wigan. Who does our panel think will come out on top?

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

We’re back...

The Football League begins again this weekend meaning Sunderland are back in competitive action and as a result, so are our team of predictors.

Last season saw Jack and Matthew jointly claim the crown of RR’s resident mystics and this season it will as competitive as ever with the stakes being raised and fires being stoked behind the scenes.

How the points are awarded...

Just a quick reminder on how we allocate points to our match-by-match predictions:

  • Correct score = 3 points
  • Correct outcome (but not correct score) = 1 point
  • Correct first Sunderland goalscorer = 1 point
  • Possible deductions for being lazy and not submitting = to be decided

We also have our League One predictions here that went out on the site before the season began. We’ll keep an eye on these as we go along because at the end of the season, this will come back into play when each correctly placed side adds five points to that person's tally.

This week’s predictions...

Explain yourself...

Phil Butler says...

Sunderland 2-1 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Elliot Embleton

The 2021/22 iteration of Sunderland AFC start their season against their 2020/21 version, aka Wigan in what will be a decent indication of where both sides are at.

Jordan Jones, Max Power and Charlie Wyke are all dangerous on their days, although these didn't come around too often at SAFC, but I still fancy us to get the job done.

Despite being without any full backs, every other position on the pitch seems to have been upgraded, with Luke O'Nien a much better option than Josh Scowen in midfield and Corry Evans an upgrade on Leadbitter and Power.

The ace in the pack for this side is Elliot Embleton who impressed out on loan last year and has done so again during pre-season. I think he's the best bet to be our first scorer of the campaign, either with a late run into the box or with a long-range effort - both skills he's shown during the off-season.

Malcolm Dugdale says...

Sunderland 2-0 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Elliot Embleton

A lot is being said about the Wigan match featuring a few ex SAFC players, but what people neglect to include is the fact most of them failed on multiple occasions to help us get promoted.

While Wyke almost got the best goal tally last season, I think without Geads’ accurate service Wyke will struggle, especially early in the season while he gets to know the wider squad.

SAFC can and should win this by a couple of goals, and if we can beat Hull with makeshift full backs we can beat Wigan too. Bring it on, ha’way the lads and FTM.

Harrogate v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly
Phil and Malcolm both fancy Embleton to bag the first of this game and the new season today against Wigan
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Matthew Foster says...

Sunderland 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Ross Stewart

Despite our lack of senior full-backs and the reunion with some of our former players, I begin with a sense of optimism. Three points would go a long way to ease some of the tension felt by fans, who have concerns with the lack of signings going into this season.

But for me, at least in the short term, I feel we have more than enough in this squad to get past what is quickly turning into Sunderland ‘B’ team. Some will feel it’s written in the stars that Wyke or Power (or Jones if he is involved) will pop up against their former employers, but I feel we’ll sneak the game by the one goal, and get the first of hopefully many three points this season.

Jack Howe-Gingell says...

Sunderland 2-0 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Ross Stewart

It’s amazing to be back underway and I can’t wait to be amongst it at the Stadium of Light, hopefully with another prediction crown added to my name come the season’s conclusion. Much has been made about our lack of transfer activity, but I’m confident our blend of youth and experience will see us through this opener.

Our chronic lack of full-backs is a major concern and I’m sure former Sunderland and new Wigan man Jordan Jones will be keen to exploit it. We know what he can do, let’s just hope he did what he usually did for us - absolutely nothing.

Wigan’s other new acquisition Gwion Edwards will also be wide threat, and there’s always the former players curse with Wyke and Power also likely to feature. I fancy us to get the job done though and Ross Stewart to start his march for a goal rich season.

Sunderland AFC v Hull City - Pre-Season Friendly
One in pre-season for Ross Stewart and more than half of our predictors back him to score first today
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will Jones says...

Sunderland 2-1 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Aiden McGeady

Everyone was kicking off when the big clubs wanted reserve teams to have a role in the EFL, now ours have made it into League One I don’t see many people complaining.

We are coming up against a new, invigorated Wigan side who will have a squad and fan collective desperate to do well this year and so will be a good first test. Both teams are said to still be looking for at least 5-6 more signings so this game will not dictate or show where they will finish but still, somehow has a lot of tension surrounding it.

I believe that even without full backs we can give this game a good go and take a win. We have a lot of players able to pass the ball, keep it and move forward and I do expect us to find space and have the majority of the possession.

Lee Johnson has finally been able to train the lads on more than just match prep and with a team filled with quality, as shown by the vast improvement in pre-season to the last, I feel we can push these aside.

York City v Sunderland - Friendly
Only Will backs Aiden McGeady to score first for Sunderland today
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

Sunderland 3-1 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Ross Stewart

Ah, pre-season optimism. Nothing better, is there! No form to go on, just blind faith.

Of course, a lack of full-backs for our part and a raft of former Sunderland players lining up for the Latics add a certain amount of intrigue, and I am concerned that if Dan Neil is deployed as an emergency left back he’ll struggle. I think it’s unfair on Neil himself if he does start there, but we’ll see.

Our old friend Charlie Wyke will no doubt make his debut, and he’ll score won’t he? He’s scored on his debuts for Carlisle, Bradford and for us, so I’d be shocked if he doesn’t add to that tally.

But, I’m of the firm belief we’re going to get off to a good start. Bar the full back situation, we’ve got a bright, energetic team that I believe is stronger than last season – and I fancy Wyke’s replacement, Stewart to bag our first goal. 3-1 win… please.

Chris Wynn says...

Sunderland 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Ross Stewart

I was so tempted to go for Will Grigg to get the only goal of the game but the thought of trying to get off to a decent start in this thing won the argument in the end.

It’s going to be a strange one with so many players returning to the Stadium of Light with Wigan, then there’s the ongoing saga of Will Grigg and whether or not he will see out the season with us.

I think it will be tight as both sides are new and could be feeling their way into what is going to be a long hard season ahead. To get out of the habit of 1-1 draws which was my initial thought, I’m going for us with the only goal of the game.

Hearts vs Sunderland
That would be a story for the opening day of the season...
Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images


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