After a decent opening to the campaign, the Cherries dipped below the required standard as they were well beaten by fellow promoted club Norwich City last time out in a game that looked close on paper. They rarely gained a significant foothold in the encounter, and were forced on to the defensive for long spells having lost the midfield battle. Eddie Howe will be expecting better here from the likes of Eunan O’Kane and Andrew Surman.
The manager has not been helped by long-term injuries to his two biggest summer signings, Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings, who would have added plenty to a side already bursting with inventiveness and verve. However, their biggest weapon remains intact, and the pace of four-goal striker Callum Wilson has the potential to be even more effective here, as the Sunderland defence is far from the quickest in the Premier League – a well publicised fact.
A pace disadvantage was not to blame for the Wearside club’s defeat at the hands of Tottenham on Sunday, as they were prised open by a fine passing move. It was a hammer blow, as Dick Advocaat had seen his team produce their best performance of the season to date, showing a good degree of commitment coupled with an attacking intent. Jermain Defoe’s miss when clean through in the first half proved to be a pivotal moment in the game.
It was a game that showcased more of the club’s summer signings, as Fabio Borini made his second debut for the club and Ola Toivonen was competent in behind Defoe despite a lack of match sharpness. But it was Jeremain Lens who shone through as Sunderland’s most influential figure on the day, and surely if he can continue in that vein and the team become altogether more ruthless in front of goal then the wins will arrive, even if they do face a stern examination here.
Charlie Daniels could return for Bournemouth after recovering from a knee injury, while Glenn Murray is in line to be given his first start for the club after coming off the bench at Norwich.
Adam Matthews and Duncan Watmore are sidelined for Sunderland due to injury and illness respectively, but they do have Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson back available.