Friday, 23 December 2016

Match preview: United v Sunderland

Jose Mourinho welcomes his predecessor-but-one as United chase a fifth successive win with the visit of Sunderland on Boxing Day.

David Moyes is sure to receive a warm reception from his former side when he brings his struggling but improving Black Cats to Old Trafford.

The former United manager was appointed as the man to immediately succeed SAF - an impossible task in hindsight - and was on a hiding to nothing when he was sacked ten months into a six year tenure.
Moyes remains a popular and well-respected figure in the game and returns to Old Trafford for the first time since his departure, following a year in Spain with Real Sociedad. 

The North-East side again find themselves embroiled at the wrong end of the table, but recent home wins over Hull, champions Leicester and Watford have kept them in touch with the teams around them. 

Reds loanee Adnan Januzaj is ineligible, while ex-United man Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Lynden Gooch are all long term absentees.

Billy Jones has picked up a knock but John O'Shea and Donald Love are expected to feature against their old club. 

Chris Smalling made a late comeback at West Brom and, with Eric Bailly doubtful, could return.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was pencilled in to feature in this game and Luke Shaw is still out but there are no fresh injury concerns for the Reds.

United boss Jose admitted team spirit has been key to recent form, and said: 

"Expectations are high, results have been up and down and we are in a position where we don't want to be. 
"I have passion for my work and this job, I'm feeling really happy here.
"It's a difficult job but I felt good immediately, I've had half a season here now and have always felt at home so for me it was easy to acclimatise.
"I have a very good squad, a big squad, and there is always frustration because a football player wants to play and not be on the bench.
"Boxing Day is always a great football day - Sunderland had a bad start but they have had some good wins recently and we have to give everything in every game we play." 
"But everyone is friends, they all have a good relationship and you can see that with the team spirit we have here."

This is the third Boxing Day match with the Wearsiders in nine years (4-0 in 2007 and 2-0 at home in 2010) with the Reds looking to continue recent momentum with a fifth consecutive victory. 

Form guide: United W D W W W W Sunderland W L W L L W 
Match odds: United 1/4 Draw 9/2 Sunderland 14/1
Referee: Martin Atkinson 

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