By the time these two sides kick-off on Sunday afternoon, Manchester United will know whether they must beat Sunderland to prevent Chelsea being crowned champions with a game to spare, or whether a victory will see them leapfrog the Blues at the top of the table. Just a point separates the Premier League’s top two sides but with Chelsea visiting Anfield ahead of the kick-off at the Stadium of Light, it promises to be a fascinating afternoon in the race for the title.Yet Sunderland will also play a major role in the drama and are in good form, having won three of their last four games. Indeed, having already beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur on home soil this season, Steve Bruce’s men will fancy their chances against the Red Devils who are within touching distance of claiming a fourth successive league title.
Only Chelsea and Aston Villa have emerged from Wearside with all three points this season and the Black Cats were within seconds of beating United in the return fixture at Old Trafford in October. The champions needed a late Anton Ferdinand own goal to snatch a 2-2 draw. Added motivation, if any were needed, comes in Sunderland’s attempts to finish in the top 10 of the Premier League for the first time since 2001, and striker Darren Bent has this week insisted it would be “a dream” to finish in the top-half. However, for United the situation is clear, win or bust. And having seen off both Manchester City and an in-form Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks, they will not lack confidence for the trip to Wearside.The champions are further boosted by the expected returns of Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, coupled with their excellent away record. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson's men have kept clean sheets in their last four away games and haven’t lost in the league on Wearside since 1997.Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand have returned to first-team training and could make the starting line up. However, Gary Neville is a doubt which could mean a start for Rafael.
Possible Starting XI: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs, Nani; Rooney.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sunderland – Fraizer CampbellAnother former Red Devil at the Stadium of Light is Fraizer Campbell who has admitted he is relishing taking on his former employers on Sunday. The 22-year-old has four goals in his last nine games and has insisted that Sunday’s match is his “game of the season” as he aims to strike a fatal blow to the champions’ title bid.
Manchester United – NaniThe Portuguese international is enjoying his best form since joining the Red Devils in 2007 and, with Wayne Rooney not certain to start, United may look to the winger for inspiration once again on Sunday.While he still continues to frustrate at times, his superbly taken goal against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend was further evidence of his growing maturity and Sir Alex will demand a similar performance at the Stadium of Light.
As always, yours truly relies on betting odds for indications.
2/5 – Utd win
4/1 – Draw
4/1 – Draw HT, Utd FT
11/10 – Utd HT, Utd FT
10/11 – Over 2.5 goals
6/5 – Utd to score in both halves
Source : manutd.com/bet
It’s easy to see that United are clear favourites.