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Preview: Sunderland Set For First Home Game

The first home game of the season is nearly upon us. The Sky cameras are in town, and so is the footballing demi-god that is Louis van Gaal.

Stu Forster

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet is likely to retain most of the side that started in the 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion last Saturday.

The one area that may see change is at right-back, where Billy Jones and Santiago Vergini are both pushing to start. Should either be selected, then Wes Brown is likely to revert to a central defensive position at Valentin Roberge's expense.

With Emanuele Giaccherini still sidelined, Connor Wickham is expected to retain his left-sided starting spot.

Manchester United Team News

New signing Marcos Rojo is not in contention with Louis van Gaal confirming that he is yet to receive a work permit. There could be recalls for Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck, Jonny Evans and Robin van Persie after the quartet returned to training on Thursday. Michael Carrick and Luke Shaw, however, are still some way from returning to first team action and Ander Herrera will miss out after picking up an ankle injury in training.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland vs Manchester United - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland: Mannone; Vergini, Brown, O'Shea, van Aaholt; Cattermole; Johnson, Larsson, Rodwell, Wickham; Fletcher

Manchester United: de Gea; Jones, Smalling, Evans; Valencia, Fletcher, Cleverley, Young; Mata; Hernandez, Rooney

Key Matchup: Lee Cattermole vs Juan Mata

A week on from his screamer at the Hawthorns, Cattermole's defensive prowess will need to be on display against one of the better attacking midfielders in the division.

Operating from the midfield base, Cattermole will not only be expected to stifle United attacks but also be the first port of generating them for his side. Nullifying the Spaniard would go some way to Sunderland attaining a foothold within the game.

Recent Form: L

Loss: Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City (Rooney 53; Ki 28, Sigurdsson 72)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United, 05/10/13

The game that propelled Adnan Januzaj into the spotlight, the young would-be Belgian international scored twice within six second-half minutes to give David Moyes a much-needed win.

Craig Gardner had put the hosts in front after just five minutes, and Sunderland would then go on to waste a number of chances before half-time. After the interval, Januzaj's strikes swung the momentum of the tie, and United held on despite a desperate late surge from the home side.

The Ref: Martin Atkinson

The West Yorkshire man had a rather strained relationship with Sunderland fans last season. Of his four games that involved the Black Cats, his premature decision to call a foul and deny Jozy Altidore a goal against Arsenal proved crucial, before a late sending off for Wes Brown in their second meeting of the season.

Neither of the Manchester City games were heavily Atkinson-influenced, so hopefully Sunday's game passes without any controversy.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

We have a certain way of playing against the top teams that suits us very well.

The players who were here [last season] understood that and it's up to the new players to adapt to that game-plan.

They have a new manager and lost their first game but I am sure they will react.

It's difficult seeing a team like Manchester United losing two games in a row and we aren't quite sure what kind of system they will play which makes it difficult.

We need to be good and we need to be better than last week, especially on the ball, to have a chance to win the game.

Louis van Gaal

Two weeks ago I was the king of Manchester. Now I am the devil.

I was not hired to be fired, but to build up a team, and that is a process that needs time.

That's the football world and especially the media in this football world. I think the fans of Manchester are intelligent.

I've already said that the first three months will be difficult for the players and the fans.

Roker Report Predicts

That a similar encounter to last season's fixture may not be too far off. With it being our first home game of the season, I expect a fervent atmosphere that will spur Poyet's side into a good start. With United very much in transition - tactically and in personnel terms - the defensive fragility that Swansea seized upon last week will be present, but I suspect a score draw will be outcome. We'll go 1-1.

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