How should Sunderland line-up? Italian trio in, but not Borini
Paolo Di Canio has been busier than a postman at Christmas in the transfer window, signing 14 players, while a further 13 have been shown the exit door.
Deadline day was just another busy day for Sunderland’s manager who has performed a massive overhaul of the Black Cats’ squad this summer.
While something had to be done given the north-east club’s close proximity to the drop zone for most of last season, such a turnaround in playing staff could end up having an adverse effect as one point form three opening Premier League fixtures would suggest.
But if Sunderland are to swerve relegation, where they are 4/11 to stay up with Ladbrokes currently, where best to fit the numerous pieces of the jigsaw?
Following Simon Mignolet’s summer exit, Vito Mannone was brought in for £2m and after some impressive displays deputising at Arsenal over the last two seasons, the Italian gets the gloves in this team over Keiren Westwood.
Captain John O’Shea keeps his place at centre-back, while the Premier League experience of Carlos Cuellar ensures the former Aston Villa man also makes it in alongside him.
Meanwhile, if Phil Bardsley can keep his opinions to himself he gets the nod at right back, while deadline-day arrival Andrea Dossena comes straight in at left back due to a lack of any other really viable options.
The central area offers Di Canio his biggest conundrum, yet we’ve gone for a mixture of grit, passing ability and flair with Craig Gardner, Ki Sung-Yueng and Emanuele Giaccherini selected in the middle.
Out wide Adam Johnson and vice-captain Sebastian Larsson are best suited to provide the assists for loan front-man Steven Fletcher.
For his set-piece taking alone Larsson would make it into this team, although the lack of viable alternatives is an issue.
Up front, new signing Jozy Altidore is unlucky to get left on the bench, while Fabio Borini is an option to come on for any of the front three positions, though Roma utilised the Liverpool outcast best form the left.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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