Manchester United v Sunderland - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Saturday 3rd May 2014 at 15:00. Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.

Odds: Manchester United 4/11, Draw 9/2, Sunderland 17/2

Last season: 3-1

Preview & injury news

Life under Ryan Giggs has started pretty well for Manchester United after their 4-0 win over Norwich City last weekend, where they looked more like the side we're accustomed to seeing by playing with a degree more pace and intensity. Finishing in sixth place in the Premier League isn't completely out of the equation for United, which would get them into next season's Europa League. They currently sit six points behind Tottenham having played a game less, and have a superior goal difference.

Sunderland seemed dead and buried a few weeks ago, and destined to play their football next season in the Championship. However, having collected seven points from their last three games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Cardiff City, Gus Poyet's side moved themselves out of the bottom three on goal difference, and have a game in hand. The Black Cats will have fond memories of Old Trafford from earlier on in the season as it's where they managed to progress to the final of the League Cup.

On the injury front, United could welcome back striker Robin Van Persie at it seems he has recovered from a knee injury sustained in February but they are unlikely to have defender Rafael available for selection as he has been recovering from a hamstring problem.

For Sunderland, they are still without Kieren Westwood and Steven Fletcher who have been sidelined for a while with shoulder and ankle problems respectively. There is a chance that Carlos Cuellar could be available having been struggling with a hamstring problem but the Black Cats are unlikely to have Ki-Sung Yeung available as he has a knee injury.

Key stats

Here are the two teams top scorers in the Premier League this season:

Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 17 29 2,448
Robin van Persie Man Utd FW 11 18 1,466
Danny Welbeck Man Utd FW 9 23 1,346
Adam Johnson Sunderland MF 8 33 2,236
Fabio Borini Sunderland FW 5 29 1,873
Connor Wickham Sunderland FW 5 12 632

Their average possession statistics:

  Possession PercentagePlayed
Manchester United 55.23 35
Sunderland 45.74 35

And the amount of clean sheets they have kept this season:

  Clean SheetPlayed
Manchester United 13 35
Sunderland 9 35

5 players to watch

Juan Mata - Ryan Giggs left Mata out of his first game in charge, but the Spaniard came off the bench and scored twice in last week's win over Norwich. It will be interesting to see if the interim boss thinks his efforts merit a start against Sunderland, and whose place in the side he may take if he starts.

John O'Shea - Sunderland are only out of the bottom three on goal difference, and with a more positive, attacking Manchester United on display last week, former United man O'Shea will have to have a solid defensive performance at the back in order to lay the platform for the visitors to get a decent result at Old Trafford.

Antonio Valencia - One aspect that was striking about last week's United performance was just how much more Valencia was getting into the game, as he seemed to be the man the side was looking for to deliver that final ball and take on the full backs. The likelihood is that he will see plenty of the ball again as the home side will look to use his pace down the flank.

Connor Wickham - Wickham seems to have been the inspiration for the Sunderland revival having scored five goals in the past three games. It's likely to be a difficult afternoon for the visitors at Old Trafford, but Wickham will fancy his chances of extending his scoring run.

Wayne Rooney - Rooney put in one of his typical performances last weekend as it seems as though Ryan Giggs is determined to make sure the team is built around him, whether he's playing up front or dropping into central midfield. Despite a season where United haven't been as prolific in front of goal, the forward isn't too far off that milestone 20 goal mark.

Earlier on in the season

Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United, October 2013

It looked as though it could have been another bad day at the office for David Moyes and Manchester United but they managed to turn things around after falling behind to bottom-of-the-table Sunderland. Craig Gardner gave the hosts an early lead with a low strike after United failed to deal with a cross from Emanuele Giaccherini adequately. It could have been 2-0 had David De Gea not saved so well from Giaccherini before half time. But Adnan Januzaj stole the headlines in the second half by grabbing two goals on his first start for the club. Ten minutes after the half-time break he sidefooted home a Patrice Evra cross with his right foot before a terrific left-footed volley just after the hour mark to round off the scoring. 

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