Saturday, 8 April 2017

Match preview: Sunderland v United

Having dispatched struggling Middlesbrough in their last away game, United are back in the North East for another meeting with relegation threatened opposition.

The Reds travel to Sunderland and the Stadium of Light, a ground which despite the hosts lowly status has not been kind to United in recent seasons.

The last two visits have yielded a solitary point and our last win there came in 2013 under the man now charged with plotting his former side's downfall, David Moyes.

After nine successive seasons of struggle in the Premier League, time looks set to have finally run out on the perennial relegation battlers. 
Rooted to the bottom, Sunderland have failed to score in their last six outings, have lost five of their last six with five wins all season and are ten points adrift of safety with seven to play. 

Moyes replaced England-bound Sam Allardyce (ironically now in charge of relegation rivals Crystal Palace) in the summer but he has been unable to oversee the fast-finishing surge that has become Sunderland's trademark. 

Poor preparation, lack of quality and a jumbled collection of stop-gap signings has made their slide back into the Championship a seemingly inevitable one. 

Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney are doubtful, with long term absentees Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Juan Mata all ruled out.
Antonio Valencia is set to return after he was rested against Everton and Luke Shaw could also feature after his lively cameo off the bench in that match. 

There are a number of ex Reds in the hosts alumnus on the pitch as well as in the dugout.

Adnan Januzaj is ineligible to face his "parent" club, but John O'Shea, Donald Love and Darron Gibson could all face their former side.
Paddy McNair (another ex Red), Jan Kirchhoff, Duncan Watmore and Steven Pienaar are all injured, but Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe return. 

United manager Jose Mourinho said: "We have a fantastic run of 20 matches unbeaten in the Premier League, this is not an easy thing to achieve and not many others do it
"We are fighting against difficult circumstances, in terms of looking to the future then I prefer to look at 10 matches with 10 draws. 
"You have something that is not easy to have, solid mentally, hard to beat, you show fight and resilience but you know that points are the reality." 

Form guide: Sunderland L L L D L L United D L W W D D 
Match odds: Sunderland 25/1 Draw 4/1 United 1/3 
Referee: Craig Pawson 

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