Sunderland attempt an upset at Old Trafford against a strong Manchester United side.
After beating Reading 3-0 on Tuesday to secure a much needed victory, pressure has eased somewhat on Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill.
Should they get thrashed by a rampant Manchester United however, that may no longer be the case, though Sir Alex Ferguson continues to be perplexed with the way his defence ships goals.
An open game is to be expected.
Venue Old Trafford, Saturday 3pm
Last season Man Utd 1 Sunderland 0
Referee Chris Foy
This season’s matches 11 Y20, R0, 1.82 cards per game
Odds Man Utd 1-5 Sunderland 12-1 Draw 11-2
Subs from Lindegaard, Johnstone, Büttner, Powell, Macheda, Bébé, Jones, Henríquez, Hernández, Smalling, Fletcher
Doubtful Rooney (illness)
Injured Kagawa (knee, 29 Dec), Nani (hamstring, Jan), Anderson (hamstring, Jan)
Form guide WWWWLW
Disciplinary record Y26 R0
Leading scorer Van Persie 11
Subs from Westwood, Bramble, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Campbell, McFadden, Wickham, Saha, Ji
Doubtful Rose (ankle), Cuéllar (knock), Johnson (dead leg), Fletcher (ankle)
Injured Cattermole (knee, Feb), Brown (knee, Feb), Bardsley (knee, unknown)
Form guide WLLDLW
Disciplinary record Y26 R0
Leading scorer Fletcher 7
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 20 league matches against Sunderland, who have gone five games without a goal in this fixture. This is United’s longest active Premier League run without a defeat against another club.
Sunderland haven’t won at Old Trafford in 25 league and cup visits since a top-flight victory in May 1968 (D9, L16).
The Wearsiders last beat United 12 years ago in the League Cup. Their last league win in this fixture was 2-1 at home in March 1997.
United are vying for a 10th league win in the last 11 fixtures. A point on Saturday would ensure they are top at Christmas; the league title has been won in each of the last three seasons by the club who were in this position. However, in total, only nine of the 20 Premier League leaders at Christmas have gone on to win the title.
Their league tally of 40 goals this season is 10 more than nearest rivals Manchester City. Only once before have United scored more goals after 16 games of a Premier League season (41 goals in 2000-01).
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are unbeaten in their last 32 home league matches played at 3pm on a Saturday since a 2-1 defeat against Blackburn in September 2005.
Wayne Rooney is the youngest player to score 150 Premier League goals. He set the mark in last weekend’s Manchester derby aged 27 years and 46 days. He has scored 24 of those goals in the month of December – a record surpassed only by Alan Shearer (39) and Robbie Fowler (33).
United have recovered an unrivalled 21 points from losing positions this season, coming back to win a record seven of the 10 matches in which they have trailed.
Among the top 11 sides in the table, only Spurs (25) have conceded more than United’s 23 goals against in 16 games.
Darren Fletcher could make his 200th league appearance, and 250th start, for the Red Devils.
Javier Hernandez has made 99 appearances for Manchester United.
Sunderland have won just three of their last 24 Premier League matches (W3, D12, L9).
They will be attempting to register back-to-back league wins for the first time since February.
They have only gained one point from losing positions – the joint worst record in the division.
Martin O’Neill would become the first manager to defeat Manchester United with three different Premier League teams if he wins on Saturday. O’Neill had previously won with Leicester City (1-0 away in 1998) and Aston Villa (1-0 away in 2009).
John O’Shea could make his 300th Premier League appearance; 256 of those were for Manchester United.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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