Sunderland are back at the Stadium of Light this weekend with an early kickoff against Southampton where two of this season's promotion hopefuls aim to kick on from very contrasting starts to the 2023/24 Championship campaign.
After relegation from the Premier League for Southampton and the heartbreak of a playoff semi-final loss to Luton Town, there was a lot of motivation heading into the new set of fixtures for both these sides. However, Sunderland have started with just one win from the first four games and just four goals scored in this period. In fact, with their first win coming just two weeks ago and a 0-0 draw with Coventry City last weekend, only three teams in the second tier have now scored fewer goals.
The club's only win this campaign has been in the home victory against Rotherham United where Sunderland saw star summer signing, Jobe Bellingham, score with a goal in either half of a 2-1 win - they also went 1-0 down once again that day.
The Black Cats have also faced an exit from the EFL Cup first round already this season with a 1-1 draw at home to Crewe Alexandra with them also heading into this game after a loss at home on the opening weekend to Ipswich Town.
As for Southampton, they've had a fantastic start to life back in the Championship with 10 goals scored and three wins already - only Norwich City have scored more. In fact, four of their seven goals let in were against Norwich in that 4-4 draw at St Mary's.
The Saints were not in EFL Cup action during the week because of their loss to Gillingham in the first round, as the club lost 3-1 on the road. They did, however, register their third 2-1 win of the season after beating Queens Park Rangers at home with the club also beating Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday in this manner.
Southampton are set to face their biggest test in the forthcoming weeks, however, with games against Leicester City, this clash with Sunderland, and fixtures with Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough and Leeds United all before the end of September.
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