Ryan Giggs will take charge of his second game as the manager of Manchester United this weekend when his side take on relegation-battling Sunderland at Old Trafford.
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If Wayne Rooney is to be believed, the United players will be looking for a big win not only to end the season positively after a disastrous campaign, but also to show the board why they think Giggs should be given the manager’s job on a permanent basis.
Sunderland meanwhile have managed to climb out of the relegation zone thanks to their 4-0 win over Cardiff City last week and will look to their draw against Manchester City and victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for inspiration against United on Saturday.
Rafael is still recovering from a hamstring injury and is unlikely to play for United again this season. However, if reports in the media this week are true then this Saturday could see the return of Robin van Persie to the United team after suffering with a knee injury. Wayne Rooney, however, has a minor groin injury and will not feature.
Gus Poyet will be unable to call upon Ki Sung-Yeung who looks to have played his last game for Sunderland this season. Steven Fletcher and Kieren Westwood are also dealing with long-term injuries and therefore unable to make an appearance. Carlos Cuellar could play after recovering from a hamstring injury. Poyet will likely confirm his availability in his pre-match press conference.
The Daily Mail has some statistics for this fixture:
- Manchester United have not lost any of their 12 Premier League games at home to Sunderland, winning 10.
- Rooney has scored three braces in his last five league games.
- Adnan Januzaj scored a brace against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light earlier in the season.
- Connor Wickham has scored five goals in his three Premier League games for Sunderland since returning from his loan.
- This means he was the league’s highest scorer in April.
- Sunderland have scored in nine of their last 10 away games in the league.
Manchester United – Juan Mata
It’s fair to say that Mata hasn’t reached the performance levels he achieved with Chelsea since making the move to Manchester in January but he is still one of United’s best players. In his 13 appearances since moving to the club, the midfielder has created 31 chances for his team mates, four of which have resulted in assists. This means that he is creating a chance every 35 minutes on average and doesn’t take into account the six clear-cut chances he has also created. Mata has scored five goals of his own from 14 attempted shots. As nine of these were on target, it means that he has a 64% shooting accuracy. Four of his goals have come from five clear-cut chances, meaning he has an 80% conversion rate in this area. Due to the likely absence of Wayne Rooney, Mata will probably play in his favoured position where he has the potential to have a big influence on the outcome of the game against Sunderland.
The young striker has been in great form for Sunderland since his return from loan. He has scored five goals, three of which of came against Manchester City and Chelsea, and he has managed to do this from 13 shots at goal. The fact that nine of these were on target means that Wickham has a 69% shooting accuracy so far. He has only managed to convert 38% of his chances overall but has managed to score 67% of his clear-cut chances. However, it’s important to note that he has only had three clear-cut chances presented to him. When looking at his creative contribution, it reflects his limited game time this season. He has created just four chances and has been unsuccessful with all 11 of his attempted crosses. However, Wickham has certainly not been overwhelmed by the big games he has played in and so Manchester United cannot afford to underestimate him.
United thrashed Norwich last week but they are facing a different prospect this time round. Sunderland have shown they are unafraid of the bigger teams in recent weeks with good results against Manchester City and Chelsea, and only losing narrowly to Liverpool, all away from home. However, the lift that Giggs will have given United and the added advantage of playing at Old Trafford will ultimately help Manchester United defeat Sunderland 2-1.