Sunderland
The Poyet-inspired Black Cats have made solid, if unspectacular progress this summer.Getty

Last season

Premier League: 14th

FA Cup: Sixth round

League Cup: Runners-up

Top Scorer: Adam Johnson, Fabio Borini (10)

Summer's work

Efforts to bring Marcos Alonso back to the Stadium of Light proved unsuccessful but the club have filled the gaping hole on the left hand side of their defence with Patrick van Aanholt, who arrives from Chelsea after just two appearances during his five years on the Blues' books. Jordi Gomez, Billy Jones and Costel Pantilimon arrive to offer Gus Poyet solid options across the board while Jack Rodwell will have the chance to resuscitate his career after two injury-stricken years stagnating at the Etihad Stadium.

Phil Bardsley, Craig Gardner, Jack Colback and Ignacio Scocco are amongst the departures, but Fabio Borini could still join the club in a record deal, providing Poyet can convince him the grass is greener on Wearside.

Manager – Gus Poyet

The Uruguayan arrived at a club that briefly flirted with optimism during Paolo di Canio's first (and only) summer at the club but the Italian's disastrous start to last season saw the Black Cats quickly become the outstanding candidates for relegation. While the transition the club underwent under Poyet was far from instant, signs of progress were clear to see. This summer provides him with the opportunity to continue that change in a measured approach that shouldn't place the club's continued presence in this division under threat. Like last season, the changes won't be swift, but his target of steady evolution is commendable. Poyet's record in the transfer market remains hit and miss, however, as demonstrated by the swift departures of countrymen Oscar Ustari and Ignacio Scocco.

Key player - Connor Wickham

The 21-year-old's lethal form towards the end of next season will surely elevate him to a key member of the Sunderland first XI this term despite the presence of Steven Fletcher, Jozy Altidore and perhaps Borini. The striker appears to have finally shaken the inevitable pressure that came with his £8m price tag after joining the club from Ipswich Town in 2011 and was the catalyst behind the club's sublime conclusion to last season that saw them take seven points from away trips to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium.

Expectations

After two seasons where relegation seemed an inevitably at points, a campaign of dull stability with a hint of progression on the pitch wouldn't go amiss at Sunderland. The club's perennially leaky defence and players who are adept at shining in brief spurts rather than over the course of a season threatens to derail those plans but the Black Cats, as it stands, appear equipped to avoid relegation after steady but unspectacular moves this summer.

Prediction

Sunderland's excellent run in last season was a testament to Poyet's abilities to inspire. 12th