Manchester United host struggling Sunderland this weekend following the last ditch derby win last weekend that saw them extend their lead at the top of the table to six points. Meanwhile martin O’Neill’s Black Cats will feel similarly rejuvenated after an important 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Reading on Tuesday night.
The result against Reading will give Sunderland confidence against a United team who have struggled defensively having already surpassed the 22 goals conceded in their 2008/2009 title winning campaign.
Manchester United hold an obvious advantage between the two sides with an unbeaten run of 18 games against Sunderland winning 14. In fact the Red Devils haven’t conceded against this weekend’s opposition since October 2009 in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. Both Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have enjoyed success against Sunderland; Van Persie has scored on five occasions in his last seven matches against Sunderland whilst Rooney has netted three times in eleven meetings.
Meanwhile Martin O’Neill remains the only manager to win at Old Trafford with two different teams and he’ll be looking to make it a hat-trick as his side travel to Manchester on Saturday.
The home side’s unconvincing defence will be given a much welcomed boost with the return of Nemanja Vidic who returned to training last week following a lengthy spell on the side lines looks set to make his 11th appearance in 18 months. The news will come as a relief for Sir Alex Ferguson as Jonny Evans recovers from a hamstring injury.
Sunderland Captain Lee Cattermole will miss out through injury while Adam Johnson, Danny Rose and Phil Bardsley are all waiting to be assessed following the Reading game.
Wayne Rooney seems to have hit fine gal scoring form of late scoring four in his last two games playing in a deeper role in midfield becoming the supplier for Robin Van Persie. In fact the England striker has created 21 goal scoring opportunities so far this season, 11 of which have come in open play.
Steven Fletcher seems to be the only Sunderland player finding the net this season with seven goals to his name so far. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers man has created goal scoring opportunities for his team mates on ten occasions from open play this season, so will be a key man in terms of breaking down the Man United defence
With Sunderland finally showing the urgency expected from a Martin O’Neill side on Tuesday night it is a question of whether they can keep up that level of performance this weekend. Manchester United will be a tougher test however their defensive vulnerability could be exploited by quick attacking football from the away side.
The return of Vidic is bound to play a big part psychologically for Manchester United who have missed his no nonsense approach to defending but I think they will have too much fire power for a Sunderland side struggling for both goals and clean sheets this season.
Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland
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