Old Trafford, Manchester
3rd May 2014, 15:00 BST
Man United entertain Sunderland at Old Trafford this weekend as Poyet’s side strives to stay away from the drop zone. Old Trafford hosts Gus Poyet’s Sunderland side brimming with confidence after some stunning results in the past few games. Manchester United, under the leadership of Ryan Giggs dispatched Norwich City with ease as the feel good factor returned to the Theatre of Dreams. Although United would like to end the season on a high, truth be told the remaining games don’t mean a lot for the club. Black cats on the others hand have their season riding on each and every game. Ergo, expect Sunderland to play their heart out and make things difficult for the Red Devils.
Team news and tactics
United rode the Ryan Giggs wave against the Canaries as players displayed true passion and character after a long time. Giggs had promised that United under his supervision would play with speed, passion and commitment; the side he chose made their manager proud by making the prophecy come to life. With rumors of Louis Van Gaal being named the next United manager gaining strength, could another spectacular performance by the players tilt the balance in Ryan Giggs favor?
On to the team news and the Welshman has an almost full roster to choose from. Dutch striker Van Persie has resumed training and could be in line for a place on the bench. Rafael Da Silva is possibly the only member of the first team squad still not fit enough to feature. Also, players who didn’t feature against Norwich City, the likes of Smalling, Fellaini and Fletcher could get a look in. Juan Mata’s fantastic performance off the bench has perhaps made the Spaniard a certainty to start, which could mean that Danny Welbeck drops to bench in that case. Adnan Januzaj hasn’t featured much in the last few weeks, while Nani too needs a few games under his belt after having recovered from his injury lay-off.
At the back, Giggs preferred the old guard as Rio and Vidic made a rare start together. The experienced duo could keep their places although Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling might pose a challenge.
Expected Starting X1 (4-4-1-1): De Gea (GK); Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Carrick Fletcher, Welbeck; Mata; Rooney
A point against Man City and then three against Chelsea both away from home has suddenly made Sunderland favorites to avoid the drop. Furthermore, a crushing home win against fellow strugglers Cardiff has lifted Poyet’s side out of the dreaded relegation zone. Now, the black cats have destiny in their own hands and win under their sails.
The north-east side host West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City in the final week of the season following Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford. Perhaps, a win and a draw could be enough.
On the injury front, Sunderland are still without Kieren Westwood and Steven Fletcher who have been sidelined for a while with shoulder and ankle problems respectively. There is a chance that Carlos Cuellar could be available having been struggling with a hamstring problem but the Black Cats are unlikely to have Ki-Sung Yeung available as he has a knee injury. The turning point of the season for Sunderland has undoubtedly been the timely recall of Connor Wickham from his loan spell. The Englishman has scored five in his last three and almost single handedly propelled Poyet’s side up the table. The defensive duo of Brown and O’shea has found form at the right juncture and things look promising for Sunderland.
Expected Starting X1 (4-4-1-1): Mannone (GK); Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso; Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Johnson; Borini; Wickham
- Sunderland are the only side to beat Chelsea at home this season.
- Manchester United have won 10 and lost none of their 12 Barclays Premier League home games against Sunderland (D2).
- Wayne Rooney has scored six goals in his last five Premier League appearances, with the six goals coming in three braces.
- Sunderland have won only six of 28 Premier League games played in May.
Player to Watch for
Juan Mata (Man United)
The Spaniard has arrived as a Manchester United player and seems to be coming into his own. Juan Mata would want a place in the Spanish national side and a run of match winning performances could get him a ticket to Brazil.
Man United 3-1 Sunderland
Sunderland are in a rich vein of form and have taken points off the likes of Chelsea and City in recent games. However, Man United too have a point to prove and with Old Trafford riding the Ryan Giggs wave, expect the Red Devils to sail through.