Sunderland welcome Manchester United to the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon in a game neither side can afford to lose.
The Black Cats last registered a victory in the Premier League all the way back in February (away at Crystal Palace) and David Moyes’ men have failed to score a goal in the past six matches.
Jose Mourinho’s side haven’t been beaten in the league since suffering that humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October. However, United have drawn four of their last seven matches in all competitions, which has cost them in the race to finish in the top four this season.
Classic Encounter (Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland, December 2016)
There haven’t been many classic matches between these two in the Premier League era.
While the reverse fixture this season was by no means a classic, it did contain two outstanding goals scored on the day.
Similar to the majority of home games played this season at Old Trafford, United were struggling to find a way past a resilient defence before full back Daley Blind opened the scoring just before the break with a fine finish.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic wrapped up the three points before new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored one of the best goals of the season, albeit an offside position, as he produced an outrageous scorpion kick.
Fabio Borini scored a stunning goal in the final few minutes of the game that left David de Gea absolutely no chance. You’re not going to see two better goals scored in a single match all season long.
Jermain Defoe vs Marcos Rojo
Sunderland need to start scoring again and they need their main man Jermain Defoe to step up and hit the target for them this weekend.
The Englishman’s last Premier League goals came in the 4-0 victory against Crystal Palace in February and since then, he was scored more goals for his country in one match than he has for his club in the last six outings.
He will be up against a rejuvenated Marcos Rojo. The Argentine defender has arguably been United’s best centre back this season and he seems to have flourished under Jose Mourinho.
Despite getting away with some reckless challenges earlier on in the season, Rojo has found his composure and he now looks to have found himself at home at Old Trafford.
Lee Cattermole vs Paul Pogba
Lee Cattermole is the type of player who Sunderland have been crying out for all season and his long-term injury has definitely had an impact on the side. He is the one who pressurises opponents and sets the tone with high press and energy and he’ll need to be at his best this weekend.
Jose Mourinho recently described Pogba as a Guinness Book of Records holder when referring to the amount of times that the Frenchman has hit the woodwork this season.
Pogba has hit the woodwork nine times in all competitions this season and it wouldn’t surprise should he strike the upright one more time this weekend.
Team News & Predicted Lineups
Sunderland will be without winger Adnan Januzaj as he cannot play against his current club Manchester United due to the terms of the loan agreement. Defender John O’Shea will also be missing due to personal reasons.
Jose Mourinho will be without the experienced heads of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young as
both are injured.
Sunderland Predicted XI: Pickford, Jones, Kone, Denayer, Oviedo, Rodwell, Cattermole, Larsson, Anichebe, Borini, Defoe
Man Utd Predicted XI: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Shaw, Pogba, Carrick, Herrera, Lingard, Rashford, Ibrahimovic
50% - Of the longest unbeaten runs in PL history (20+ games), Manchester United's current run has the lowest win % (W10 D10). Uninspiring.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 5, 2017
It’s a must-win game for both teams and this could make it an exciting encounter.
Manchester United are much better on the road than at home as they have the second best away record in the league picking up 27 points in 13 games.
Sunderland are struggling at the moment and their record against the Manchester giants is terrible as they’ve only beaten them three times in the Premier League era and there would need a minor miracle to get a fourth victory this weekend.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-3 Manchester United