General view - Stadium of Light Sunderland
The Back Cats, now under the guidance of David Moyes, have had a testing summer but they managed to put in a decent opening day display despite ultimately going down 2-1 at Manchester City.
Newly-promoted Boro also put in a solid performance on their first game back in the Premier League, drawing 1-1 at home to Stoke City with Alvaro Negredo notching for the Teesside club.
Sunderland manager David Moyes poses
Both teams are expected to finish in the bottom half but have every chance of avoiding the drop, and Merson feels with there won’t be much between the teams at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
“Big game! Sunderland did all right at the Etihad but I think it was the wrong decision to take Jermain Defoe off towards the end,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“Middlesbrough had a good result too, Gaston Ramirez looks a very good signing and if you get the ball in the box to Alvaro Negredo, he'll score goals. They need to play to his strengths.”
“There won't be much between these two at the end of the season and I think there are goals to be had at the Stadium of Light. I'm going for a wide-open game, and a score draw.”
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka
Middlesbrough weren’t renowned for being involved in high-scoring games last season, and boss Aitor Karanka will no doubt feel a tight defence will be key to his side’s survival chances this term.
Sunderland, however, have the ability to mix it up and in Jermain Defoe upfront they have a natural goal scorer who will also pose a threat with a creative midfield behind him.
The Wear-Tees derby means a lot to both supporters and they are traditionally tight affairs.