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Played
December 26, 2010 3:00 PM GMT
Old Trafford — Manchester
Referee:‬ P. Dowd‎
Attendance:‬ 75269‎
 
 
57′ (OG) Anton Ferdinand
 

Premier League Preview: Manchester United - Sunderland

Michael Owen is back in contention, but Hargreaves, Scholes & Valencia remain sidelined...

By Adithya Ananth

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is all smiles after picking up the first points of the season at home to Blackburn Rovers
Top Of The Table

United have done very well to surge forward to the top of the table owing to Chelsea’s poor form, and now have a two-point lead over second placed Arsenal with a game in hand.

This puts them in a very strong position ahead of this Boxing Day fixture, and confidence can be taken from the fact that they have been traditionally superb during this period.

Of their last 16 outings right after Christmas, the Red Devils have gone on to win 15 of them. Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges have also been at the top of the league at this stage on five previous occasions, and went on to win the Premier League in four of them.

If that is not enough, the Old Trafford outfit remain the only team in the top-flight who are yet to be beaten in the league, and have won their last three games on the domestic circuit.

And the recent victory over Arsenal would likely lift the spirits of even the most pessimistic of United fans, as they head into this home game against Steve Bruce’s side.

Bruce Looking For His Maiden Triumph Over Ferguson

The Sunderland manager was a previous Manchester United player – and captain - himself, and knows precisely how the mood will be in the opposite camp ahead of this game.

But his own players’ achievements are no less significant, as they are currently placed sixth in the standings. And having carved out a previous 3-0 victory over Chelsea, the Black Cats may fancy their chances against their opponents.

However, Bruce is yet to beat his former boss in the tactical field, as he has never bested Ferguson during his years as a manager. But he will know that it nearly happened last season, when the Wearsiders were leading 2-1 and looked like winning the game before an own goal from Anton Ferdinand during stoppage time meant that it ended all square.

But is has been four decades – 42 years, to be precise – since Sunderland managed to beat the Red Devils in their own backyard, which means that the current crop will go into the club’s history books if they manage to pull off what would seem an unlikely victory.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United

Michael Owen recently declared himself fit for the Christmas period, which comes as a boost to manager Sir Alex Ferguson. But the experienced forward is likely to remain a fringe player, as he remains well down the pecking order at Old Trafford.

Paul Scholes (groin) is not expected to return for another two weeks, while Antonio Valencia (ankle) and Owen Hargreaves (hamstring) remain sidelined.

Possible starting line-up: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Park, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani; Berbatov, Rooney.

Sunderland

Lee Cattermole is suspended for this encounter after an accumulation of bookings. Danny Welbeck will also be unavailable, as he is on loan from United and is not allowed to take part in this game.

Michael Turner (knee), Titus Bramble (knee), Andy Reid (hamstring) and Fraiser Campbell (knee) are all unavailable through injury.

Possible starting line-up: Gordon; Onuoha, Mensah, Ferdinand, Bardsley; Henderson, Meyler, Malbranque, Richardson; Bent, Gyan.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Edwin van der Sar Goalkeeper
21Rafael SilvaMidfielder
5Rio FerdinandDefender
15Nemanja VidicDefender
3Patrice EvraDefender
13Ji-Sung ParkMidfielder
16Michael CarrickMidfielder
8AndersonMidfielder
11Ryan GiggsMidfielder
9Dimitar BerbatovStriker
10Wayne RooneyStriker
29Tomasz KuszczakGoalkeeper
2Gary NevilleDefender
12Chris SmallingDefender
33BebeStriker
4Darron Gibson Midfielder
27Federico MachedaStriker
14Javier 'Chicharito' HernandezStriker
1Craig GordonGoalkeeper
27Ahmed El MohamadyMidfielder
15Nedum OnuohaDefender
-Anton FerdinandDefender
2Phil BardsleyDefender
17Steed MalbranqueMidfielder
14Jordan HendersonMidfielder
16C. RiverosMidfielder
7Boudewijn ZendenMidfielder
39Darren BentStriker
3Asamoah GyanStriker
22Simon MignoletGoalkeeper
14Paulo Da SilvaDefender
34Blair Adams Defender
26Adam ReedMidfielder
7David MeylerMidfielder
-Jordan CookMidfielder
-Marcos AngeleriDefender
Players to Watch
Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
28 15 8 0
Wayne Rooney has been far from his best this term, having undergone problems on as well as off the pitch. But the festive period and the confident mood in the United camp could be just what the forward needs to revitalise a season that has been largely forgettable on a personal front.
Asamoah Gyan
Asamoah Gyan
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 3
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Asamoah Gyan had a very positive World Cup and has done well with the Black Cats this season, particularly during Darren Bent’s absence. The Ghana international has made several substitute appearances, but has made only five starts and scored as many goals in the league this term. His contribution could be vital if the Wearside outfit are to break their hoodoo at Old Trafford.
Probable Lineups
Edwin van der Sar 1
Rafael Silva 21
Rio Ferdinand 5
Nemanja Vidic 15
Patrice Evra 3
Ji-Sung Park 13
Michael Carrick 16
Anderson 8
Ryan Giggs 11
Dimitar Berbatov 9
Wayne Rooney 10
Craig Gordon 1
Ahmed El Mohamady 27
Nedum Onuoha 15
Anton Ferdinand 0
Phil Bardsley 2
Steed Malbranque 17
Jordan Henderson 14
C. Riveros 16
Boudewijn Zenden 7
Darren Bent 39
Asamoah Gyan 3
Prediction
With everything currently going United’s way, it is hard to envision anything other than a victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges on Boxing Day.
Editor's Prediction
Results
 
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Luis Suárez Luis Suárez
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Yaya Touré Yaya Touré
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18 6
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
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Man Utd.
15 2
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
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15 0