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Premier League

  • December 26, 2010
  • • 15:00
  • • Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Referee: P. Dowd
  • • Attendance: 75269
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Premier League Preview: Manchester United - Sunderland

Premier League Preview: Manchester United - Sunderland

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

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.

Players to watch

W. Rooney

Position: Attacker

Games: 6

  • 3
  • 1
  • 1
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.

A. Gyan

Position: Attacker

Games: 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.

Editor's 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.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Manchester United

Sunderland

Wins
1
1
3
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Manchester United FC MNU
Manchester United FC Manchester United
Draw
Sunderland AFC SUN
Sunderland AFC Sunderland
87%

Top 3 Predictions

Manchester United FC MNU
2 - 0
Sunderland AFC SUN
Manchester United FC MNU
3 - 0
Sunderland AFC SUN
Manchester United FC MNU
3 - 1
Sunderland AFC SUN

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