The two teams that face off in Saturday’s early kick-off had pretty contrasting matches last weekend albeit with the same result. Manchester United looked to have sealed three points against Chelsea only for Diego Costa to score in injury time while Sunderland were staring at another defeat before a 89th minute Jermain Defoe equaliser helped them rescure a point. Sunderland are looking to get out of the relegation zone and Manchester United are hoping to enter the top 4. Sadly, both are impossible this weekend. Manchester united are 6 points adrift of the top 4 and Sunderland are still a couple of wins away from safety. The two teams take on each other at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light with the kick-off scheduled for 12:45 GMT (6:15 IST).

Team News:

Sunderland: Midfielder Adam Johnson was sacked by Sunderland in mid-week. The home side are also without Younes Kaboul, Sebastian Larsson, Jeremain Lens and Duncan Watmore.

Manchester United: Adnan Januzaj , Guillermo Varela and Phil Jones all picked up knocks while playing for the Under-21s earlier this week. All of them are unavailable along with Ashley Young and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are nearing a return and Under-21s defender Will Keane has been called up to the first team.

Expected Playing XI:

Manchester United: David De Gea; Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian; Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial; Wayne Rooney.

Sunderland: Vito Mannone; Patrick Van Aanholt, John O’Shea, Billy Jones, Lamine Kone; Lee Cattermole, Yann M’Vila, Wahibi Khazri; Jeremain Lens, Jermain Defoe, Dame N’Doye.

Key Battles:

Jermain Defoe vs Chris Smalling: The Manchester United centre-back will be up against veteran Jermain Defoe and will have to keep him in check. The 33-year-old has averaged a goal a game this year and the Black Cats will be hoping that he is fit to start on Saturday.

Wayne Rooney vs John O’Shea: Wayne Rooney has scored 5 goals in the new year and has been involved in more goals this year than any other player. It will be up to ex-Manchester United ace John O’Shea to make sure he doesn’t get involved in any more goals for one more week atleast.

 

 

Key Stats:

Sunderland have failed to score in eight of the last 12 Premier League matches against Manchester United and only once in each of the other four encounters.

The Red Devils have won 21 and lost just two of their 29 Premier League games against the Black Cats.

Sunderland have never beaten Manchester United in the league at the Stadium of Light (D4 L9).

Wayne Rooney has been involved in as many Premier League goals in six games in 2016 (five goals, three assists), as he had in 33 games in 2015 (six goals, two assists).

Sunderland are on the longest current run without a clean sheet in the Premier League (11 games).

The Red Devils have collected just six points from their last six Premier League away games (W1 D3 L2).

Only Sergio Aguero (7) has scored more Premier League goals in 2016 so far than Jermain Defoe (6) and Wayne Rooney (5).

Betting Odds:
Sunderland 9/2
Draw 31/11
Manchester United 4/5

Referee: Andre Marriner 

Predicitons: Sunderland have never beaten Manchester United at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League in 13 previous attempts and no matter how bad United have been playing it will be a herculean task for Sunderland to get the win. Manchester United are still a long away from their best but their performances have improved in the last few weeks and they should easily overcome this Sunderland side.

Predicted Score-line– Manchester United 2 – Sunderland 0