Pickford or Mika?
There has been a development in this area over the course of the international break for Sunderland, as a new stopper was brought in. Back on transfer deadline day it had been revealed that Sunderland had missed out on the signing of Portuguese 'keeper. Mika Domingues. However, this week there was a u-turn and Mika did sign with the Wearsiders to provide competition for current starter Jordan Pickford and the injured Vito Mannone.
Despite this activity Pickford should continue between the sticks after a solid display in the 1-1 draw at Southampton. Unfortunately for Pickford, the one mistake he made was highlighted more as he let Jay Rodriguez's late strike slip under his body and cost his team a first league win of the season. Manager David Moyes was quick to defend his young 'keeper though, and he should pick him for this one.
Full-strength at full-back and centre-half
These two positions pick themselves as Javier Manquillo, on the right and Patrick Van Aanholt, on the left should start. One reason is the fact neither player has a natural understudy fit at the moment, but in reality they are the best two options with van Aanholt a big part of what Sunderland do in attack and Manquillo impressed on his debut.
David Moyes managed to strengthen his squad in this area of the pitch on deadline day as well, with Belgian international Jason Denayer being brought in on a season long loan deal from Manchester City. As for the two central defenders who started at Southampton, Lamine Kone and Papy Djilobodji, they played pretty well, but Denayer's clear ability and top level experience may force one of them out the team, most likely Djilibodji.
Kone is definitely Sunderland's best option in central defence and despite the transfer saga over the summer involving opponents Everton, he is the first name on the teamsheet for what he did at the end of last season. Therefore he will should start this game, and new boy Denayer will partner him; Djilibodji isn't quite at the same level yet.
Kirchhoff and Rodwell
Despite Moyes wanting to play two up front so far this season, he won't have that option against his former club despite picking up a former Toffee, Victor Anichebe from the free agent market; he is not yet match fit so won't feature in this one. Therefore the 4-2-3-1 formation may well be back in force and one of the holding players will definitely be Jan Kirchhoff, who is yet to feature this season after the trouble with his hamstring.
The main contender for who would play alongside Kirchhoff would be record signing Didier N'Dong, however he still has to serve a two match suspension carried on from his time in France at FC Lorient. This most likely means another Everton old boy, Jack Rodwell will keep his place in the team ahead of Paddy McNair who has struggled at the start of his Sunderland career.
Gooch, Januzaj and Khazri to support the striker
With no Fabio Borini - who is out for three months - and new signing Anichebe not yet fit, there will be space for someone to play in a number 10 role behind lone striker Jermain Defoe. If you look at Moyes team selections so far, the favourite to play in this role would be American youngster Lynden Gooch, who has been a firm favourite of the Scot and has probably done enough to keep his place.
Moving out wide and one of the positions seems obvious with Manchester United loanee Adnan Januzaj set to continue on either wing; so far he has been right up there with Europe's best in terms of most dribbles completed. Despite Wahbi Khazri being called out by his manager for his fitness, he should get his start in the league due to the lack of an attacking players brought in at the end of the transfer window.
Defoe should keep his place
Despite Sunderland's constant struggle, it seems they still have Jermain Defoe up front and scoring goals; breaking records in the process by moving into 10th for all time Premier League goals and scoring in successive away games. Highly touted youngster Joel Asoro is his only backup right now so it's important Defoe stays fit and produces.
Predicted Sunderland XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Manquillo, Denayer, Kone, van Aanholt; Kirchhoff, Rodwell; Januzaj, Gooch, Khazri; Defoe.