MX23RW : Friday, October 23 09:30:47| >> :120:6838:6838:
Feb 13, 2016 at 12.45pm UK at Stadium of Light
Attendance: 41,687
Man UtdManchester United
Khazri (3'), de Gea (82' og.)
FT(HT: 1-1)
Martial (39')

Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday afternoon's Premier League encounter at the Stadium of Light between Sunderland and Manchester United.

Two teams at opposite ends of the Premier League table will meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

Time is running out for hosting Sunderland if they are to retain their top-flight status, while visiting Manchester United face a tough challenge if they are to ensure that the famous Champions League anthem will be bellowing out around Old Trafford next season.


Sam Allardyce orders his half-time refreshments during the Premier League game between Sunderland and Manchester City on February 2, 2016© Getty Images

Sam Allardyce is known to be proud of the fact that he has never felt the pain of relegation during his career as a Premier League manager.

But, while he has suffered the odd scare along the way - particularly during his time at the helm of Bolton Wanderers - that record has never been under as much threat as it is now.

Coming from two goals down to snatch a point away at Liverpool last time out will have undoubtedly boosted confidence levels among the squad, but being four points from safety with just 13 matches left to play, it is victories that Allardyce's side need.

Preparations for the visit of United have been rocked by the news that Adam Johnson, who found the net in the draw at Anfield, has pleaded guilty to child sex offences at Bradford Crown Court. The club are yet to comment on the matter, but the midfielder is expected to play no part while his trial continues.

It is a cliche, but if Sunderland are to finish the campaign outside of the bottom three, much of it will be down to a much-needed improvement of their home form.

Currently, only bottom-placed Aston Villa have a worse home record than the men from Wearside. The fans at the Stadium of Light have witnessed just three victories all season - a figure that will need to increase if Sunderland are to avoid slipping into the second tier.

Recent form: WWLDLD
Recent form (all competitions): LWLDLD

Man United

Louis van Gaal watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Stoke on February 2, 2016© Getty Images

Prior to his arrival on these shores following the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup, Louis van Gaal had managed the biggest clubs in Spain, Germany and his native Holland.

Not all of those stints ended amicably, yet it would be fair to say that the 64-year-old has never had to deal with such intense speculation regarding the security of his job.

Virtually every back-page at some stage this week has claimed that Van Gaal's time at Old Trafford will be up in the summer, despite the fact that he has a contract that runs until 2017. Having Jose Mourinho waiting in the wings has not helped Van Gaal's cause, either.

It is a credit to Van Gaal that although he is currently viewed as a managerial dead man walking, he has remained brash and defiant in his own ability. The Dutchman has snapped at members of the press that have dared to question his future, which at least shows that he is determined to reverse the team's fortunes.

His players have also responded with some fluid displays of late, scoring seven times in their last three outings - two more than United managed throughout the whole of December.

If reports are to be believed, the continuation of the Van Gaal regime hinges on whether or not United qualify for next season's Champions League. Last weekend's 1-1 draw away at Chelsea has left the Red Devils six points adrift of the top four, which means that that only a victory on Wearside will do.

Recent form: WDWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): DWLWWD

Team News

Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester United on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

Van Gaal named an unchanged starting lineup for the clash with Chelsea and there is likely to be a temptation for the United boss to continue with that trend.

If that is proven to be the case, youngster Cameron Borthwick-Jackson will keep his place at left-back, while the in-form Wayne Rooney will spearhead the attack.

Memphis Depay impressed for the club's Under-21 side on Monday night, but he is expected to once again be among the substitutes along with fellow summer signing Morgan Schneiderlin.

As for the home side, it remains to be seen if Dutch midfielder Jeremain Lens will recover from a knock in time to feature in the matchday squad.

Fabio Borini may also come back into contention, while the recently-signed Dame N'Doye could partner Jermain Defoe in attack.

Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Mannone; Jones, O'Shea, Kone, Van Aanholt; Kirchhoff, Cattermole, M'Vila; Khazri, N'Doye, Defoe

Man United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson; Carrick, Fellaini; Lingard, Mata, Martial; Rooney

Head To Head

Of the 29 Premier League encounters between the two sides, Sunderland have come out on top just twice.

Not only that, United have never lost a Premier League encounter at the Stadium of Light, with the Wearsiders last getting the better of their visitors in the league 19 years ago when Roker Park was their home.

At Old Trafford earlier in the campaign goals from Depay, Rooney and Juan Mata sealed a 3-0 win for United.

The Dugout Podcast

Hit play below to listen to Sports Mole's new podcast 'The Dugout' for our take on the week's biggest football talking points:

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We say: Sunderland 0-2 Man United

In their last six league away matches, United have scored more than one goal only once. Nevertheless, they appear to be playing with a bit more freedom right now and with their front four causing problems, it would not be a surprise to see them leave the Stadium of Light with all three points.


Who will win Saturday lunchtime's clash at the Stadium of Light?

Man United
Man United
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Sam Allardyce orders his half-time refreshments during the Premier League game between Sunderland and Manchester City on February 2, 2016
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