A week after what can be considered another blip in Manchester United’s pursuit of Champions League football in the shape of a disappointing 2-1 away defeat to Swansea, Louis Van Gaal will be looking forward to bounce back in winning ways as they are set to host Sunderland come Saturday evening. Despite the fact that Man United have lost just twice in the last 20 games, the performances especially since the turn of the new year haven’t been all convincing and Van Gaal, if anyone, should be aware of it more than anybody associated with United. The Red Devils though, have been enjoying a good run of results at Old Trafford dropping just 7 points in 13 matches at their fabled home and would like that to continue when they take on a Sunderland outfit struggling to get themselves going.
Gus Poyet has been getting a fair bit of stick of late from the Sunderland faithful and quite fairly so for not putting the opponents to sword despite dominating proceedings for long stretches in recent games. This could be evident from the fact that Poyet’s side have managed to draw the highest number of games in the division (13) and with just 4 wins all season and a mere 3 points from the drop zone, Sunderland can’t be expecting to repeat last season’s heroics and leave it late whilst they can do a lot worse than go out and play with more cutting edge and purpose. They will head to the North West on the back of a typically drab goalless draw they held on to at the Hawthorns meaning they have yet to register a league victory in February.
The two sides shared the spoils when they met each other last time around at the Stadium of Light where Juan Mata’s opening goal was quickly cancelled out by Jack Rodwell.
Van Persie left the stadium in crutches at the Liberty stadium with the club waiting on scan results to assess the extent of his injury ruling him out for the next two weeks at least. Michael Carrick has resumed his training with the first team but Saturday’s game might have come too soon for his liking. Rafael is expected to start at right back after a long spell on the sidelines and also playing the occasional reserve team football whilst Mata is expected to start a league game after a fairly long while.
Possible starting lineup: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw; Blind, Di Maria, Herrera; Fellaini; Rooney, Falcao.
Sunderland will be monitoring the fitness of midfield trio Emmanuele Giaccherini, Will Buckley and Jack Rodwell ahead of their visit to Old Trafford with Rodwell closer to a return to the first team. Poyet’s two expected changes could see a left-sided pairing of Patrick Van Aanholt and Connor Wickham. Both were used from the bench against West Bromwich Albion, but could be recalled at the expense of Anthony Reveillere and Ricky Alvarez
Possible starting lineup: Pantilimon; Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Van Aanholt; Cattermole; Wickham, Larsson, Gomez, Johnson; Defoe
Louis van Gaal’s side have conceded exactly once in eight of their last 11 home league games, keeping three clean sheets.
Manchester United have won 10 and lost just one of their 13 Premier League home games against Sunderland (D2).
Sunderland are the only team in the Premier League not to score a goal in the 15 minutes directly after half–time.
The Black Cats have scored just 10 goals in their last 15 Premier League matches, but four of those have come in their last three away games.
Ander Herrera – Manchester United
For a few years now Manchester United faithful have been craving for a creative and dynamic midfielder to fill in the shoes of veteran Paul Scholes and one could finally start to believe that they have got someone that has some aspects to him that are quite similar to Scholes himself. Herrera has been played sporadically at United restricting to just 14 league appearances out of which, he’s played the whole 90 minutes in just 3 games which is unbelievable to be honest. Whenever he’s on the pitch the side look a lot better with him always looking forward to open up the opposition. He’s averaged close to 40-50 passes per game at a success rate of 87% which is commendable whilst he’s also managed to score thrice in the league creating 13 chances from open play. There is little doubt that Herrera having a good game in the middle of the park against Cattermole and company could be key to United’s chances of getting a routine home win on Saturday.
Jermain Defoe – Sunderland
Defoe arrived at Sunderland as a breath of fresh air in front of goal with the experienced English forward already scoring twice in 5 appearances for the Mackems. He’s attempted 10 shots in total out of which 4 have been on target with two finding the net, shows what kind of a striker he is and has been in the Premier League for years. Sunderland have generally been struggling or to put it this way they have not been mega productive in front of goal that would convert draws to vital 3 points in crucial games between now and end of the season which is why Poyet has brought in Defoe in the first place. With the right supply from midfield, he can get them important goals for Sunderland and what better way to really kick start their season and a survival push than a win at Old Trafford much like last season?
A rather unusually comfortable 2-0 home win is what I’d put my money on. To back this score you can always place your own bet via William Hill by clicking the following link (UK residents) – http://bit.ly/1DUzaxx – (Bet £10 Get £20 Free)
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Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland