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There is little else left to talk about midweek. Most of what I had to say has already been touched upon in the comments section in the last post. So let’s move onto today’s game.

United will be looking to take the positive result against Villa when they play Sunderland, who have been more or less in relegation form lately. However, teams have realised that the best way to play us is to attack us, which, on a better day should actually suit our style. Strangely, this tactic, of attacking us to submission, has actually worked, thanks to a defence wilting under pressure aided by a seemingly punch drunk midfield making life even harder for the back four.

United’s target will be really simple and two fold: get on the scoresheet, and more importantly, get through a game without conceding a goal.

The latter is critical towards our side looking to revert to its more familiar, imperious self ahead of a testing trip to Porto. So the importance of maintaining clean sheets can’t be more emphasised. Making this task tougher, however, is a dearth of defensive personnel; Rio is still out and is likely to be 50:50 for Porto and Jonny Evans is nursing his groin. So the patched up back four will consist of a Patrice Evra, who’s playing like he’s seeing two balls at the moment, a Nemanja Vidic who is a pale version of the peerless centre half at the heart of our clean sheet record earlier, a John O’Shea and a Gary Neville, whose got disaster written all over him at the moment.

On the upside, Rio, Rafael and Brown aren’t too far away from their return, in that order, and that makes for a comforting thought.

Wayne Rooney who was the subject of reports that he may have a niggle, is in fact fit. So that’s one worry Ferguson won’t have to deal with. Berbatov, meanwhile continues to be out and, according to this table, his earliest reported return date is the 19th of April.

Considering it’s Sunderland, one would hope Ferguson would field a 4-4-2 formation despite it being an away fixture. His decision to field a 4-3-3 at home, in midweek, was a rather shocking one that wasn’t touched on by most media outlets that criticised United’s performance. I don’t understand the need for fielding a defensive setup while playing at home even on a European night. That we were jaded and might have still been poor had it been a positive 4-4-2 is besides my point.

On the starting XI, I suppose our back four would comprise of Evra, Vidic, O’Shea and Neville. Carrick and Fletcher might play in the middle, flanked by Ronaldo and Park/Nani. Tevez and Rooney would be up front, assuming Fergie decides to give the Argie some minutes on the pitch from the beginning.

Sunderland have some injury worries of their own, but it seems they’ll get their first choice ‘keeper, Craig Gordon back in contention. So brace yourselves for a stormer from their record signing. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Prediction: I’d hope for a 1-0 win but I suppose it would be 2-1 to us and an ugly one at that.

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