Sunderland will be hosting Manchester United this Sunday in the final encounter of this Premier League season for both the teams. While Martin O Neill’s side have little to play for going into this, United know that they need to win this to have any hope whatsoever of winning the title this season. Sunderland are without a win in the Premier League for seven matches now,the last one coming against Queens Park Rangers back in march.
Sunderland vs Manchester United,13th May
Match Referee: Howard Webb
Kick off: 15:00 BST, 19:25 IST
Manchester United news
Manchester United travel to Wearside without Chris Smalling, who is still out with the groin injury that he sustained against Swansea last week and has been ruled out of Euros 2012. With Jonny Evans still out with hamstring problem, Phil Jones is likely to partner Rio Ferdinand in defense,the latter having managed to shake off the groin injury he had last weekend. Sir Alex has completely stated that they have to stay focused on the job at hand and hope something ‘stupid’ happens to City.
“It’s not going to be easy for us up there and we know that. We’re going there with a chance of winning the league and you know it’ll never be easy. These last-day games where have a chance of winning the league, three times we’ve won it and once we lost it at West Ham. They’re not easy.”
“I think the disappointment of City losing the game would be unbelievable and untold at this moment in time [as regards] what effect it could have on them. QPR are at the other end of the spectrum, some players could be put on the transfer list, salaries halved and things like that. It [relegation] would have a dramatic effect on the club. There’s two ends of the spectrum but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win. We have to focus on that – that’s our job.”
Although he believes City are going to win it this time and his side will have to miss out just narrowly, he squashes talks of an era coming to an end.
“We do tend to get there in the end but it looks like we’re going to miss out this season. We’re not looking as though it’s the end of an era for us. In many ways, it’s the start of one for us. The challenge will be really obvious to them [the players] now. If they lose the league, as we did with Chelsea a couple of years ago, we did something about it. Hopefully, we can do so again.”
This match could be the last for Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov in a red shirt,the former most likely to retire and the latter seeking a move for regular football.
Probable starting line up - David De Gea,Rafael, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia,Paul Scholes,Michael Carrick,Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney,Javier Hernandez
Substitutes – Ben Amos, Dimitar Berbatov, Nani, Ryan Giggs, Fabio, Tom Cleverley.
Martin O Neill’s side go into this weekend’s game against United with almost nothing at stake. They are safe from relegation yet their recent poor run of form means they find themselves in the bottom half of the table. O Neill knows that his side can however end this season on a real high if they can manage a win against United and possibly finish off their title dreams. Sunderland are still missing Richardson and Seb Larsson through injuries. Former United defender Wes Brown is also out of action which means Kilgallon will continue to partner Turner in defense.
Probable starting line up – Simon Mignolet, John O Shea, Michael Turner, Mather Kilgallon, Phil Bardsley, Craig Gardner, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon, Nicklas Bendtner
Substitutes – Keiran Westwood, Dong Won Ji, Fraizer Campbell, Titus Bramble, David Meyler, Ehmed Elmohamady,Wayne Bridge
Players To Watch:
From Manchester United’s point of view, there could be only one name as they look to win the match. Just like they did against Swansea,they will be attacking right from the outset and play a high tempo. Wayne Rooney, who did fail to score last weekend would like to score on Sunday and finish the season on a high.
From Sunderland’s perspective, Stephane Sessegnon would be the man to watch out for, Recently voted Sunderland’s player of the season, he can pose a real threat for United’s makeshift defense with his burst of pace.
Sunderland are third from bottom in the form table having drawn four and lost three of their last games. They have been on a downward slump of late and it seems relatively difficult for them to get anything out of this game. United on the other hand, could have really won last weekend by a wider margin with most of them scuffing away easy chances. They will be once again looking to attack and look to create a major dent in the vast gap in goal difference between the two Manchester teams.
Sunderland have lost five times out of the last seven matches these two teams faced each other in Premier League,having managed to draw twice.
Sunderland have lost just four times this season at home while United continue to be the best team on the road.
The matches between these two are normally low scoring affairs and I expect the trend to change this weekend with United going for the kill. I expect both teams to break the duck but United are a far more superior side and given the stakes,they will win it for sure. Simon Mignolet will have to be at his best and produce another top performance if Sunderland are to get anything from this. So my pick: Manchester United by a two goal margin.