Darren Bent feels that Sunderland could be competing closer to the business end of the table if they could manage to raise their game when facing some of the top-flight’s smaller teams.
Bent has starred as Sunderland have already taken points off three of the biggest guns in the Premier League this season with a win over Manchester City and draws against Arsenal and Liverpool.
He will be hoping to find the target again as they face Manchester United next, but he feels that Sunderland’s biggest challenge tends to come in games which many would expect them to win.
According to the Sunderland Echo, Bent said: “Our problem in the last couple of seasons definitely hasn’t been raising our game for the big occasion, it’s been games against the teams in and around us.
“If we can play consistently at the level we’ve done in these recent games then there’s no reason why we can’t go on to have a very good season.”
Sunderland are 4/1 to defeat Manchester United and despite their good record against the top teams, it is not a fixture they have done particularly well in since the inauguration of the Premier League.
They have only beaten Sir Alex Ferguson’s team once in 18 Premier League meetings and have lost the last four at the Stadium of Light.
However, United are still waiting for their first away win of the season and have conceded seven goals in the three games on their travels.
Manchester United are 4/7 to beat Sunderland, with a repeat of last season’s 1-0 victory, where Nani scored the only goal, priced at 6/1.
Darren Bent has scored five goals in six games and is 8/1 to top the scoring charts in the top flight this season. See the full Premier League top scorer betting odds market.