Sunderland v Leeds
Saturday 19th August, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports

Sunderland's solid start

Sunderland kept their unbeaten record intact on Wednesday night, surviving a late onslaught from Sheffield Wednesday to record a 1-1 draw. It follows a 3-1 triumph away at Norwich and a 1-1 stalemate on the opening day of the Championship season.

Simon Grayson's men are a work in progress and options are thin on the ground. The Wearsiders have fielded the same starting XI in all three fixtures thus far but displayed a togetherness and resilience that wasn't seen for large swathes of their terrible relegation campaign.

The Black Cats have looked dangerous from set-pieces, organised and tough to beat - all hallmarks of Grayson - with the Sunderland boss admitting in midweek he's been pleased with the position his team are in since taking charge.

Defensive concerns for Leeds

Leeds kicked-off their campaign with an enjoyable 3-2 win at newly-promoted Bolton but back-to-back goalless draws against Preston and Fulham have stunted their start under new head coach Thomas Christiansen.

United's backline restricted Fulham to one shot on-target on Tuesday night despite the absence of three senior defenders through injury; 20-year-old centre-half Conor Shaughnessy excelling on his full league debut at the back.

Liam Cooper, Matthew Pennington and Gaetano Berardi are all expected to miss out again this weekend, leaving Pontus Jansson as the only available out-and-out first team centre-back. With speculation also mounting over Chris Wood's future, Leeds will hope their star striker is still at the club and available to play.

The draw represents value

Sunderland 2.44 have won just three league games at the Stadium of Light since May 2016 but early encouraging performances suggest the Black Cats could mount a top-six challenge this season.

Grayson's group have returned a positive 5.3-3.8 expected goals supremacy from tough tests against Derby, Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday and will fancy their chances of registering a second Championship success of the season here.

Leeds 3.20 W4-D2-L5 on their travels at top-half teams under Garry Monk last season but having failed to score more than once in eight of their past 10 away days - and leaking in six of their most recent nine - I'm happy to swerve the visitors.

Draw backers might be keen on the 3.40 available for the points being shared. It's landed in eight of Leeds' last 17 contests.

Back Both Teams To Score

Sunderland fired blanks in seven of their final eight Stadium of Light outings during their doomed Premier League campaign and with Jermain Defoe since departing, it's unlikely we'll see the Black Cats cut loose here.

Leeds have seen nine of their last 13 trips to relegated clubs feature Under 2.5 Goals and a repeat can be backed at 1.71. Indeed, fewer than three goals were scored in 13/24 (54%) of the visitors' road trips since the start of last season.

However, Both Teams To Score should appeal at 1.81. It's proven profitable in 12 of Leeds' most recent 14 games as guests, as well as all three of Sunderland's matches under Grayson's watch.

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Back Both Teams To Score 1.81

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