MX23RW : Wednesday, August 4 22:38:38| >> :120:17360:17360:
Apr 9, 2017 at 1.30pm UK at Stadium of Light
Attendance: 43,779
Man UtdManchester United
FT(HT: 0-1)
Ibrahimovic (30'), Mkhitaryan (46'), Rashford (89')

Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

Sports Mole previews the Premier League contest between Sunderland and Manchester United.

Sunderland play host to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon knowing that only three points will do as they look to give themselves a slim chance of remaining in the Premier League for another season.

United make the trip to the Stadium of Light also in need of victory as they look to keep pace with the rivals for a place in the top four of the league standings.


David Moyes watches on during the Premier League game between Everton and Sunderland on February 25, 2017© SilverHub

David Moyes has endured a chaotic week in the North-East after comments he made towards a female reporter but regardless of his public backing from the club's hierarchy, the controversy has come at the wrong time for the Scot.

It has been suggested that Sunderland require stability to get themselves out of their current predicament but with Moyes having only registered seven wins from 35 matches and the discontent in the area only growing, it remains to be seen whether Ellis Short will remain patient with the 53-year-old.

Sunderland are currently 10 points from safety and with the team having failed to score in their last six games, it would be difficult for anyone to begrudge a change in the dugout, but it could be argued that a game of this importance is what Moyes may need to spark a change in mindset in the dressing room.

Moyes has already highlighted the fact that it is effectively sink or swim time for the club and with United probably stronger in all departments, it is going to take a performance of grit and determination to get a result on the board this weekend.

Sunderland also need a fit-and-firing Jermain Defoe, who has scored in just once of his last 10 matches for his club. Much has been made of the 34-year-old's displays this season but he has under-performed since the middle of January.

There were signs of improvement from the team as a whole in the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City, but gradual progress here and there is not enough now. Only a collective effort from front to back is going to do and it must start on Sunday.

Recent form: LLLDLL

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho watches on during the FA Cup quarter-final between Chelsea and Manchester United on March 13, 2017© SilverHub

There has been talk of United prioritising their efforts in the Europa League in an attempt to achieve Champions League football next season, but United now find themselves in a position where their fate in the Premier League is effectively in their own hands.

The 1-1 draw with Everton on Tuesday night was not ideal but after Liverpool and Manchester City failed to capitalise 24 hours later, United can now move level on points with some of their rivals if they continue to win in the top flight.

That is easier said than done when United have dropped four points in their last two home matches, but there is no reason for Jose Mourinho to throw in the towel just yet, especially when preparing for a game with the division's bottom side.

Upcoming encounters with Chelsea and Burnley are likely to pose more problems than against a team which has not scored in 13 halves of football, but it is an opportunity to get back to winning ways in style and in turn, put pressure on the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal who have slipped up in recent games.

The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a big plus but he has scored just one goal from open play in his last six matches, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan owes his manager a performance after ineffective showings over the last seven days.

However, Mourinho will have no concerns over his defence - despite injuries to Phil Jones and Chris Smalling - with the opposition only scoring two goals against his team on two occasions in 33 matches in all competitions.

Recent form: WWDWDD
Recent form (all competitions): DLWWDD

Team News

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney in action during the Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on January 15, 2017© SilverHub

Mourinho said on Friday that both Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney would not be part of the squad which travels to the North-East.

Young sustained a knock on Tuesday night, while Rooney misses his second game in succession, with no date being revealed regarding a return.

Paul Pogba should feature after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Mourinho must decide between Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw for the spot at left-back.

Moyes is expected to be able to recall John O'Shea, while Victor Anichebe could also be given a start after he made an appearance against Leicester in midweek.

However, Adnan Januzaj is forced to miss the fixture due to the conditions of his loan deal from United.

Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Pickford, Jones, O'Shea, Kone, Oviedo, Cattermole, Ndong, Rodwell, Anichebe, Borini, Defoe

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Darmian, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Ibrahimovic

Head To Head

Sunday's fixture represents the 145th time in which these two sides have met in a competitive fixture, with United claiming 64 victories in comparison to 42 wins for Sunderland.

While the two teams are competing at opposite ends of the table, the last eight matches have produced a variety of results with United winning four times, Sunderland emerging successful on three occasions and one draw being played out.

It has been almost 14 months since they squared off in the North-East, with Sunderland claiming a 2-1 victory courtesy of a late own goal from David de Gea.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Sunderland 1-3 Manchester United

While United have not exactly being firing on all cylinders, we cannot justify predicting any kind of positive result for Sunderland. Moyes will be desperate to gain a win over his former club but realistically, United should have enough to run out comfortable winners.

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Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is congratulated by manager Jose Mourinho during his side's Premier League clash with Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 19, 2016
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Thursday's key events

· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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