Weblog: The football punter

Go for goals in Gigg Lane contest

Sunderland haven't won a league game in August since their 1-0 victory over Manchester City in 2010 and new manager Simon Grayson is hoping for an early-season boost at Bury in the EFL Cup.

Life is rarely straightforward for Sunderland managers and the club's pre-season schedule ended with an acrimonious 5-0 home defeat to Celtic and midfielder Darron Gibson being filmed in a bar questioning his teammates' commitment to the cause.

The Mackems were 1-0 down at home to Derby just 11 minutes into their opening league game last Friday but Grayson got a response of sorts as his side came back to draw 1-1 with a decent Rams outfit.

The former Preston boss said afterwards that he couldn't suddenly turn relegated Sunderland into "a positive, happy-go-lucky club playing free-flowing football".

And the Black Cats' mood may not be dramatically improved by a tricky trip to Bury, big spenders in Sky Bet League One this summer.

Sunderland snapped up the Shakers' top goalscorer James Vaughan but Bury boss Lee Clark isn't short of attacking options after the signings of Jermaine Beckford, Nicky Ajose and Chris Maguire.

Beckford scored the winner against Walsall on his debut and the 1-0 scoreline could have been more comfortable for Bury, who also missed two penalties on the opening day.

Beckford and Maguire were the guilty parties from the spot but they caused plenty of problems from open play and Bury have the potential to land a blow on a Sunderland defence still finding its feet under Grayson.

The Black Cats will also be keen to take a positive approach and they amassed 20 efforts on goal against Derby.

Tuesday's EFL Cup action produced 104 goals in normal time of the 28 matches - an average of 3.71 per game - and the presence of new players and formations, as well as some early-season rustiness, could ensure another entertaining clash at Gigg Lane.

Both teams to score
1pt 17-20 Coral

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Match in Focus

18:00 Th 19Oct BT2

Crvena Zvezda v Arsenal

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Arsenal’s two group games have featured ten goals
Expert verdict
Rotating their squad hasn’t stopped Arsenal winning their two opening Europa League outings and backing the Gunners to come out on top in an open games looks sensible. Arsene Wenger's reserves have had no problem finding the net in this competition, scoring seven goals in those matches, but have looked far from secure at the back.