Preview: Manchester United vs. Sunderland - Cats Get Sniff Of Survival

Laurence Griffiths

Sunderland are bidding to beat the drop when they visit Old Trafford.

Sunderland team news

It looks like being the same again for Sunderland with Gus Poyet planning 'no surprises' after seeing his side pick up seven points out of the last nine. That means there is unlikely to be a recall for Emanuele Giaccherini despite his recent good form from the bench or Liam Bridcutt.

Manchester United team news

Wayne Rooney is reportedly a doubt though Robin van Persie is said to be close to fitness and could feature. Juan Mata is pushing for a start after his impressive two-goal cameo last week against Norwich.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland vs Manchester United - Football tactics and formations

Key match-up: Connor Wickham vs. Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand has been one of the best around for the last decade but he is nowhere near as quick as he was and Wickham is looking a massive handful for anyone right now. If Ferdinand plays, you just know Wickham will be under instruction to target him.

Recent form: WDWLLW

Win: Manchester United 4-1 Aston Villa

Draw: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich

Win: Newcastle United 0-4 Manchester United

Loss: Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United

Loss: Everton 2-0 Manchester United

Win: Manchester United 4-0 Norwich

Last time around: Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland (15/12/2012)

The Red Devils had brushed Sunderland aside in routine fashion with goals from van Persie, Rooney and Tom Cleverley long before a consolation Fraizer Campbell goal.

Referee: Howard Webb

It's a bit of a running joke in football that Howard Webb is biased towards Manchester United. Let's hope this weekend gives people reason to question that. Though it should be noted that Webb has taken charge of the teams a total of four times this season so far, with neither United or Sunderland picking up a single point in any of them.

What the managers said

Gus Poyet

It's going to be a special game for everybody. We know how Manchester United look now under Ryan Giggs; we know they're going to be confident after last weekend, but it's the same for us.

We've been there this season and done very well. We're confident as well because of the result last weekend, so it should be a very good game. We need to go there and use our qualities.

Ryan Giggs (answering the only question that actually matters...)

Most footballers are pretty superstitious so suit again I think, unless I’m playing!

Permutations

Sunderland can all put ensure survival with a win at Old Trafford, though they will also need help from elsewhere. For that to happen, Norwich would have to lose (on Sunday at Chelsea) with neither Fulham (Stoke A) or Cardiff (Newcastle A) picking up a win.

Roker Report Predicts

GOALS! I can see this one being a very open and lively affair with both sides going for a win. I'm not sure I am brave enough to predict a Sunderland victory, though. I'll go for a lavish 3-3.

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