Sunderland may have been on a disastrous stretch of form for virtually the whole of 2011, but they can begin to turn things around with a home victory against Stoke.
Steve Bruce has watched his team take just 12 points throughout the whole of the year, while none of their three victories in this time has come in the Premier League season.
However, that is all set to change as they have tended to enjoy Stoke’s trips to the Stadium of Light in recent seasons.
Stoke have failed to even score a goal on their three Premier League visits and they arrive this season having just had a long flight back from the Ukraine, after playing Dynamo Kiev away in the Europa League.
Sunderland’s odds are 7/5 to beat Stoke and there are also signs that any unrest in the squad has been cleared up, now that Asamoah Gyan has secured his loan move away.
This fixture in the Premier League has been generally poor for the away side, with the six meetings ending in five home wins and a single draw.
But Stoke will take confidence from the fact that Sunderland have lost eight of their last nine Premier League games at the Stadium of Light, while they themselves are in good form to sit on the periphery of the Champions League places at this early stage of the campaign.
Stoke are 2/1 in the Premier League odds to pile more pressure on Bruce, with the draw available at 9/4.
The encounter could largely hinge on which of either club’s deadline-day signings have the biggest impact.
Sunderland signed Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal and he is 6/1 to be the first goalscorer, which is the same price in the same market as new Stoke recruit Peter Crouch.