Sunderland host Manchester United on Sunday in a fixture that could decide the Premier League fate of David Moyes’s men.
Sunderland are rock bottom on the Premier League table and Sunday is likely to provide no recourse either, with Manchester United set to pay visit to the Stadium of Light. David Moyes was shown support by the board but a loss here would see them potentially become 13 points adrift of safety; a nearly impossible task with just 7 games left.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have been paying their penalty for not being able to convert good performances into wins, which has seen them fall to sixth on the Premier League table.
The Red Devils, though, have a tough run in towards the end of the Premier League, which makes three points at the Stadium of Light a priority right now.
We at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at the fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Paddy McNair and Jan Kirchoff are the absentees in defence, something David Moyes looks equipped to tackle however, with the likes of Jason Denayer and Lamine Kone likely to be the preferred pairing. Steven Pienaar and Duncan Watmore are unavailable as well, which is likely to decrease the bench strength of the Black Cats.
But, perhaps the biggest blow would be the unavailability of Adnan Januzaj, who is ineligible to play against his parent club. David Moyes will have to play with numbers in the defence and the middle to crowd up the area, in an attempt to close the spaces and frustrate the creative frontmen for United.
United have shown an innate vulnerability towards not being able to break down structured defences and the former United boss would look to emulate what has been adopted by several oppositions against the Red Devils so far.
Jermaine Defoe is still the trump card for Moyes and Sunderland. The Englishman’s form has kept the club’s survival chances afloat and he would need to be at his prolific best in order to achieve a result against United.
Probable Lineup ( 4-3-3 ): Pickford; Jones, Kone, Denayer, Oviedo; N’Dong, Gibson, Cattermole; Borini, Defoe, Anichebe
Manchester United FC
Paul Pogba looks set to return to the starting lineup in what is set to be the home stretch of the Premier League. The Frenchman has been vital in the buildup to almost every United attack and his return is likely to reinvigorate a rather dull-looking attacking unit.
Anthony Martial could be reinstated into the lineup along with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who will be tasked with replacing Juan Mata as the creative engine of the side. Marcus Rashford could get the nod over Jesse Lingard due to his directness while Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be eager to get on the scoresheet and aid United’s top-four ambitions.
Jose Mourinho has become increasingly frustrated with United’s inability to find the net on a regular basis, despite dominating the match in terms of possession and chances created.
Probable Lineup ( 4-2-3-1 ): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Pogba; Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Martial; Zlatan
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.72
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score anytime @ 1.53
3. Over 9.5 Corners @ 1.72
1. Jermaine Defoe to score anytime @ 3.25
2. Correct Score – Sunderland 1 – 3 Manchester United @ 13.00
1. Sunderland are unbeaten against Manchester United at Stadium of Light in the last 3 meetings in all competitions.
2. Jermaine Defoe has not scored against Manchester United in his last six appearances against the club.
3. Manchester United are on a 20-game unbeaten streak. However, their 10 draws in it make them the lowest points average and win ratio among the other occasions a team has gone on an unbeaten streak of 20 or more games.
4. Sunderland have not managed to get on the scoresheet in their last six Premier League games.
5. Sunderland have scored just 14 goals in 15 home games, the lowest among the other teams in the Premier League so far.
Player to Watch
Paul Pogba is set to return to the lineup, the large majority of which started in the frustrating 1-1 draw against Everton. Hence, the performance on Sunday would depend heavily on Pogba’s ability to influence the game and drive his team forward creatively.
The Frenchman has had a quietly sound season so far, with statistics backing him up. And, as the end of the season draws near, Mourinho would hope the Frenchman can go into an extra gear and aid his team’s cause.
Sunderland AFC 1 – 3 Manchester United FC
Now, Sunderland’s inability to score may again be highlighted on Sunday. However, we at The Hard Tackle feel Manchester United would emerge victorious by a margin of 2 goals, whatever be the scorelines. The 3-1 is down to mostly United’s tendency to become complacent at the back at times.