After the fantastic win over Valencia midweek, attention returns to the Premier League as a trip to Sunderland looms. But it could prove a more difficult task given Manchester United have not won away from Old Trafford in the league this season.
But that is something a fact that could be remedied by United having won six of their last seven league games at the Stadium of Light coupled with the Black Cats having only ever kept one clean sheet against United in the Premier League.
Defender John O’Shea is hopeful of a victory away from home,
“We should definitely have a couple of away wins on the board right now,” he said.
“I can’t really explain why it has gone wrong. Teams have not been tearing us apart. It has literally been the drop of a ball that has gone against us.
“It is only a matter of time before we start keeping clean sheets away from home and there is no better time to start than tomorrow.” He stated.
United are without the injured Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, while Gary Neville who missed the midweek trip to Spain could make his 600th appearance for United if he plays.
Owen Hargreaves continues his to make progress from injury after training with the first-team this week, but is highly unlikely to feature on Saturday, thus Michael Carrick should retain his place alongside Darren Fletcher in the centre of midfield.
One headache Sir Alex Ferguson will have is deciding whether or not to start Javier Hernandez, the striker looked lively against Valencia, bagging the winning goal in the process, but on the other hand Michael Owen is also on form at the moment as is Dimitar Berbatov, the Premier League’s top scorer, whose average number of touches in the box is higher than any other player in the division.
Between the Bulgarian and Nani, both have either scored or assisted 12 of United’s 16 league goals this season. So we will be looking for inspiration in both these players it seems.
The opposition have been inconsistent so far this season and have only won one match in the league, but they have performed admirably against the bigger sides, gaining victory over Manchester City then drawing with Arsenal and Liverpool.
Also, Steve Bruce’s side have only lost at home once in their last 13 league matches… to Manchester United of course. Though the former United Captain is hopeful of gaining another scalp,
“We stuck at it against both Arsenal and Liverpool and showed no fear,” said Bruce.
“But it’s done and dusted now and we must go forward and produce another performance like those. We’ve had an unbelievably difficult run of fixtures and at the moment we’ve done okay.
“This is the ultimate test – can we go again and get to the same levels we’ve showed? I hope so.
“They don’t come any tougher than Manchester United. It’s a game everyone looks forward to, so let’s hope we can give a good account of ourselves.” He continued.
The Black Cats go into the match without Anton Ferdinand, John Mensah and Kieran Richardson, while loanee Danny Welbeck is ineligible.
Much will be expected of Darren Bent who has scored eight goals in 10 games against the so called ‘big four’ teams, and this season is one of only two players to have scored for Sunderland this season, the other being Asamoah Gyan.
This likely to be a result of Sunderland having had just 15 shots on target this season, fewer than any other club.
Victory is a must, not taking advantage of a rare Chelsea defeat last weekend, it may just happen this weekend and three points on Saturday will put extra pressure on the Blues as they play Arsenal on Sunday.
Prediction: 2-1 United
Probable Line Up: van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson; Hernandez, Berbatov
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