Sunderland's John O'Shea in action with Manchester City's Fabian Delph
Sunderland have not won a game in the opening month of the season and will be looking to end that disastrous run against Aitor Karanka's side at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
The Black Cats lost their opening game this season away to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City and will be looking to put an end to their awful run when Middlesbrough visit Wearside in David Moyes' first home game in charge.
Sunderland's Jermain Defoe looks dejected
Sunderland last won in August in the Premier League in 2010, when Darren Bent’s 90th minute penalty handed them a 1-0 victory over Manchester City. Their failure to get their Premier League campaign off to a good start has impacted on their season in recent years, leading to repeated relegation battles. But while the failure to win in August is not the sole reason for a relegation battle, it is part of the reason.
Speaking to the Chronicle Live, O'Shea said on whether Sunderland would come under pressure should they not win: “Not really. We just need to get points on the board as early as possible to save ourselves that end of season frantic finish.The sooner we get points on the board, the better for everybody.
“It’s the new manager’s first home game as well, and it happens to be Middlesbrough who have just been promoted and they will be looking for their first win, too. Everyone is looking forward to it, and it’s a chance for some of the new lads to see the stadium and the surroundings and the atmosphere that can be created.”
Middlesbrough's Alvaro Negredo celebrates scoring their first goal
In looking toward the game, O'Shea pointed to the improvements Karanka had made to the Teesside club when he said: “They have brought in a more European feel a little bit, but they have a good core who have been there for a couple of years that has been close to promotion a couple of times and they finally got it done last season."
“The manager has a good rapport with everyone down there, too, so they have a lot of things in their favour. They have an owner there that has been in the Premier League before and the atmosphere around the place, they want to stay in the Premier League and the signings they have made and are trying to make shows the intent that they have.
“I’ve played against Negredo before, he’s a handful but we have the players to cope with that and hopefully we can show that on Sunday.”
Middlesbrough have been active in the transfer window, with the signings of Victor Valdes in goal, Alvaro Negredo in the forward position and the permanent signing of Gaston Ramirez, after a successful loan from Southampton, in midfield. But Sunderland, and in particular, O'Shea will look to really kick-start their season after an impressive display in their opening game, despite losing to Manchester City at the Etihad.