Match Preview: Manchester United vs Sunderland – Time to earn City showdown

by Tom Parker

Manchester United host Sunderland at Old Trafford in the second leg of their semi-final Capital One Cup clash aiming to overturn a 2-1 deficit and book their place against neighbours Manchester City at Wembley.

United were beaten comfortably by Chelsea at the weekend and the 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge was a fourth defeat in five games. Tomorrow, United can ill afford to show the same lack of cutting edge in the final third or the poor defensive concentration which was evident against Chelsea.

The Reds will be desperate for a better showing this time out with Tom Cleverley issuing a rallying cry in the build-up and with hopes of a title defence long since over, the FA Cup out of the picture following elimination at the hands of Swansea and the Champions League remaining all but a pipe dream, the Capital One Cup now represents the best chance of silverware this season.

Winning a trophy would help to lift some of the doom and gloom which currently surrounds the club. While United are just potentially 180 minutes away from a first trophy under Moyes, they will have to overturn a one goal deficit to progress to Wembley.

Manchester United have lost just twice in their last 25 meetings against Sunderland.

United will have to do it without skipper Nemanja Vidic who is suspended after losing his red card appeal while Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are unlikely to return in time for the fixture. Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Ashley Young all returned at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and Javier Hernandez could come into the side after impressing as a substitute.

Meanwhile, Sunderland have been much improved of late and are unbeaten in their last four games prior to their visit to Old Trafford. Gus Poyet’s side have closed the gap between themselves and the teams around them in recent weeks and after looking certainties for the drop a month ago, now look a decent bet to survive another season in the Premier League.

The Black Cats have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the contest and Adam Johnson has been in fabulous form of late with a hat-trick against Fulham and the equaliser against Southampton this weekend.

Goals from Phil Bardsley and Fabio Borini either side of a Vidic header decided the first leg a fortnight ago but United did win 2-1 in the two sides last league fixture thanks to a Januzaj brace.

Hopefully Moyes’ side have the strength of character to overturn the 2-1 deficit while devoid of their main attacking talents yet again. Shinji Kagawa, who was surprisingly omitted from the starting line-up at the weekend, could potentially tip the balance in United’s favour.

Also, Danny Welbeck has scored in three of his last four Old Trafford appearances and the in-form England international could be vital if he can continue his recent hot streak in front of goal.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland

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