Wayne Rooney said at the start of the season that there were a couple of fixtures he was looking forward to see when the Premier League fixture list was announced. Among the obvious ones that included the Manchester derby and the clashes against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, there was this one fixture – the away match at the Stadium of Light.

After Manchester United lost the title on goal difference to Manchester City, the sight of Sunderland fans celebrating in front of the United fans was surprising and hurting, to say the least. To say that the United players will be raring to inflict a sweet revenge on Sunderland will be an understatement. However, United must look at the bigger picture, as they look to battle on the 2 fronts – the Premier League as well as the FA Cup.

Predicted Starting XI

Sir Alex is expected to make wholesale changes to his usual starting XI, with one eye on the FA Cup replay against Chelsea on Monday. This could see him make full use of his squad, as he could field almost a second XI against Sunderland. With United clearly in the driver’s seat in the Premier League, Sir Alex can take the luxury of resting major key players against Sunderland. This could be United’s starting XI, the tactics board designed courtesy ofEPLIndex :

For Sunderland, a single win in their last 23 games against Manchester United doesn’t fare too well for a possibility of a win tomorrow. Add to that injuries to key players like Steven Fletcher, Lee Cattermole and Carlos Cuellar, and the going gets more tougher for them. However, expect them to go all out against United with nothing to lose. They still have quick players like Sessegnon and Johnson on the flanks, who can cause problems.

Some Statistics

1. Should United win tomorrow, they would set a record of most wins by a Premier League team in their first 30 games, a record set by Spurs in 1960/61 and Chelsea in 2005/06.

2. Manchester United have gone 537 minutes in the Premier League without conceding a goal, the longest by any team since United themselves in the 2008-09 season.

3. Steven Fletcher has scored one third of Sunderland’s league goals this season. Also, Sunderland have also lost just 1 game out of 9, when Fletcher has scored for them.
Opposition Players To Watch Out
Stephane Sessegnon, Connor Wickham and Adam Johnson – quick players who can cause a lot of problems with their pace and intelligence.

Prediction

Despite changes, expect a fired up United team looking to teach Sunderland a lesson on making a mockery of the opponent. However, they cannot get too confident and complacent and must do the job. United to win 2-1.