The favorable results last weekend mean Manchester United are way better off than they were at this time last year- 2nd only two points away from neighbors City.
Wins against Liverpool and Southampton have not only brought hope for the fans, but also a newfound hero. A certain hype proclaims him to be the new Thierry Henry. For now he is just Anthony Martial. Next stop for the inform Frenchmen and his teammates- Sunderland at home.
The midweek League Cup win against Ipswich also saw Captain Wayne Rooney getting on the score sheet for the first time in an English competition this season. It will be a huge relief around Old Trafford if he can do so in the Premier League as well, before the key games this season begin with a home encounter against Wolfsburg in the CL.
Despite the difficult schedule, Van Gaal remains focused solely on the upcoming weekend game, insisting United are not yet finished product and not much should be taken from their league position. A grounded approach, as such should be expected from the Iron Tulip. However hopefully this mini winning run, brings also more flair in United’s game.
Sunderland on other hand are in totally opposite position to their hosts. Only two points from the first six games has not been the start that Black Cats wanted.
The discouraging performance against Bournemouth and midweek trashing from Manchester City put them in a world of trouble before visiting the Theatre of Dreams. There is considerable quality both in attack and defence present after the summer transfers. However only six scored goals and 16 conceded mount a considerable challenge for Dick Advocaat to steer them to safety once again. The Dutchman is still struggling to find the best 11 and performances are suffering from it.
Defenders Marcos Rojo (hamstring), Paddy McNair (knock) and Luke Shaw are absent for the game with Paddy expected to be available as early as next week.
Elsewhere rotations are expected following the congested fixture list. Phil Jones will probably once again be as a substitute.
Jermaine Defoe and Jack Rodwell are both doubtful with their fate being decided by late fitness tests.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1):
De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Darmian, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Mata, Memphis, Rooney, Martial
Pantilimon; Yedlin, Kaboul, Coates, van Aanholt; M’Vila, Cattermole; Toivonen, Lens, Larsson; Defoe
Last Meeting: Manchester United – Sunderland 2:0 28th February
Two goals by Wayne Rooney decided a nervy affair, which allowed United to bounce back from a defeat the previous week ( Swansea away).
Hopefully this time around the game is not as contested and Rooney can once again return to scoring ways.