Friday 12 February 2016

Match preview: Sunderland v United

United manager Louis van Gaal has said his side need to 'do it for themselves' as the fight for the Champions League places ratchets up a notch this weekend. 

The top four all meet on Sunday meaning that United will make up ground on at least two of the sides above us with a win in this Saturday lunch time kick off at struggling Sunderland.

Asked how many points United must earn to return to the top four, van Gaal said:

"That is dependant on the competitors because at the end of the competition the pressure is always rising, you have to be able to cope with that pressure and Manchester United is more or less used to that.
"We don't have to look to our competitors as we have to win our own matches first and this is why we were so frustrated when we lost two points at Chelsea.
"First you have to win by yourself then you can look at your competitors a little bit." said the Dutchman.

Sunderland have made a habit of a late dash to safety in recent seasons, and, although they sit second bottom of the table ahead of the visit of United, they are only four points adrift and still well in contention to escape the drop once again. 

Under the stewardship of survival specialist Sam Allardyce, the Black Cats have again proved they're up for the fight with a late comeback to stun Liverpool and nick a point at Anfield last time out through an 89th-minute equaliser from 13-goal top scorer Jermain Defoe. 

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are all still sidelined for United, but young striker Will Keane is in the squad after impressing in a 7-0 rout of Norwich for the second string.

Phil Jones, Guillermo Varela and Adnan Januzaj all picked up knocks in that match- in which Memphis featured- but Van Gaal added:

"They're not very nasty injuries but I still have to give time to recover- for Bastian it is not so good but Rojo and Valencia are coming back and I hope to have them available within the next three weeks or so."

Sunderland have never beaten United in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light but won 2-1 in the League Cup semi-final first leg in 2014 and last season's corresponding meeting ended 1-1.

United won 3-0 at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture in September in what proved to be Dick Advocaat's penultimate game in charge.

Form guide: Sunderland L W L D L D United D W L W W D
Match odds: Sunderland 17/4 Draw 11/4 United 8/11
Referee: Andre Marriner 

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