The ‘chosen one’ David Moyes returns to the site of his downfall, as Old Trafford welcomes the Scotsman and his Sunderland team.
Manchester United will be looking to continue their good run of form when they come up against relegation threatened Sunderland. The Red Devils are riding high on the back of three successive victories in the Premier League, and are favourites to take that winning streak to four.
Moyes has his task cut out for him on his first return to the Theater of Dreams since being sacked in 2014. It’s not all bad news for the Black Cats though, as they will be buoyed by recent victories over Leicester City and Watford. It should prove to be an interesting return for Moyes.
Probable Line-ups & Tactics
The Red Devils will look to give the Old Trafford faithful a spectacle of attacking football, something they’ve been doing rather consistently this season. However, results haven’t gone their way, and manager Jose Mourinho will also emphasize on the defensive aspect of proceedings.
An attacking quartet of Zlatan, Mkhitaryan, Martial and Pogba will look to link up, while the duo of Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick shore up the midfield. Right-back Antonio Valencia is an important attacking player as well, and one can expect many of the attacking threats to come down the right channel where he operates.
In games that they’ve looked good in, United have dominated possession, played with some silken passing movements and quick interlinks. This will be what they’ll be looking to do against Sunderland as well.
Probable Starting XI:- De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Martial; Zlatan
The Black Cats have had to defend for their lives for most of this season. Manager David Moyes will know full well that Sunderland cannot go to Old Trafford and look to take the impetus away from United, and so will prep his side to defend deep and look for counter-attacks.
Jermaine Defoe is a very real attacking threat, and has looked even better paired up with another striker up front. The Black Cats will probably deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will quickly change to a 4-4-2 when they are on the attack.
Parking the bus is the only option for Moyes and Sunderland though, and defending out of their skins will be necessary for them to salvage anything from this game.
Starting XI:- Pickford; Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Jones; Januzaj, N’dong, Denayer, Khazri; Anichebe, Defoe
- The last 7 games between the two sides in all competitions have seen both clubs win three apiece, with one match ending in a draw.
- This is only the second Premier League season where United have been outside of the top five at Christmas.
- Rooney will be making his 450th Premier League appearance, should he play in the game.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs just one more goal to equal his best tally of goals in a calendar year (50 in 2012).
- The Black Cats are two goals short of 600 Premier League goals.
Player to watch out for
The 35-year-old ‘Super Swede’ has dispelled all the critics for the umpteenth time, striking thrice in United’s last two premier League games. Zlatan is sure to steal the show this time around as well, as he comes up against a leaky Sunderland defence.
Zlatan is also chasing a personal record for most goals scored in a calendar year. He’s already scored 49 this year, and needs just one more to equal his personal best. With just this game and one against Middlesbrough on the 31st of December remaining, Ibra will be poised and ready to strike.
Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland
Sunderland may be looking for the upset, but it is highly unlikely that David Moyes will come away with anything on his return to Old Trafford. United are getting into some good form, and the likes of Zlatan, Pogba and Martial are sure to rip into the Black Cats defence.
The visitors may just sneak a goal past the makeshift United defence as well, but it would be more of a consolation goal than anything else.