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We get another exclusive chat on the site as ahead of this week's game with Manchester City, Nick Summerbee gives us his view on both his previous clubs. Be sure to read more about our former wing-wizard over at his official website - www.nicksummerbee.com
Two of my old sides face each other as this weekend's instalment of Premier League action opens with Manchester City taking on Sunderland. I have just come back from doing some television work out in Doha with Chris Makin, Jim Magilton and Lee Sharpe, and the experience reinforced the global nature of the Premier League these days. There is a worldwide demand for Premier League content and when you consider Sunderland's sponsorship deal(s) this summer, it is easy to see that the board are not only aware of that, but are proactive in utilising it to Sunderland's advantage.
So, naturally, we come to Adam Johnson - a player that Sunderland brought in over the summer and one that comes up against his former club on Saturday. He was such a significant signing in terms of galvanising the fan base, and signalling the club's ambition - not to mention just how good a player he is. His opportunities were limited but he still managed to contribute quite a bit, scoring seven goals in each of his last two seasons at City.
Personally, I think he's a better player than Scott Sinclair, who has replaced him, but Johnson wasn't playing enough so the move benefited all parties - including England. It's a strange one, because you would think that if City wanted more width, Johnson would be your man, but Roberto Mancini is opting to go about it by using wing-backs which doesn't suit Johnson's game.
So that really is Sunderland's gain. He's a top player and there is always a story about a player coming back to haunt their former club. He'll be desperate to show his worth to the Sunderland fans, because injuries have hampered him a little bit so far.
I think it has the potential to be a really good game. Sunderland will go to the Etihad Stadium with confidence considering the way they played there last season. They should have won the game in all honesty, and will take a lot of confidence from that.
City looked exceptional in the Community Shield but - for some reason - haven't quite hit the heights that we know they are capable of. They have conceded a few goals which Sunderland will take heart from, especially with Steven Fletcher in the form that he is in, and it's all set up to be a difficult game for the champions.
Coming back to Fletcher; Sunderland paid a lot of money for him and he has hit the ground running, which is exactly what you hope for your strikers to do. Apparently when he first joined his fitness wasn't quite up to scratch, but he's got off the mark and not looked back. He now looks like he's fully fit and his confidence must be sky-high at the moment.
Add that ingredient to City looking not as formidable defensively as they did last season and you have the making of a game with a few goals. You look at Arsenal, and see what Steve Bould has achieved since his appointment with the first team. If City are to retain the title they need to recapture their defensive form from last season, but I don't think they are protected as well as they were because of Nigel de Jong's absence.
On the other hand, City are more than capable of scoring, too. Carlos Tevez looks motivated again, and you would do well to get a more complete midfielder than Yaya Toure - his strength, his explosiveness when taking players on. He really is an immense talent.
Looking at City's summer business, I don't think they got the players they primarily targeted. They've added to the squad, but there might have been a few bigger names. A lot of clubs went in for Eden Hazard, and everyone can see what a player he is, but City have brought in players that they can perhaps develop such as Jack Rodwell. Teams have to keep progressing, and City have attempted to with this new three-at-the-back formation. Last season they focussed a lot of their attack through the middle, and Mancini has devised a way to spread the pitch, and try to stretch the opposition in order to be able to find that space in the middle and open the game up. But they have a great squad; once they get into their stride and perhaps tighten up at the back they should have no problem making the top four.
Getting back to this weekend, I think the run of draws - although good results in fairness - had stemmed the enthusiasm that the new signings had created, so it was good to see Sunderland finally get a win against Wigan. Martin O'Neill will have his team organised, and whilst Lee Cattermole's absence will be felt in midfield, it will still be a hard test for City. Mancini will need to be mindful of Johnson returning to his old stomping ground.