Last weekend’s surprise loss to Swansea has really put the pressure on Manchester United in the top four race.
Today against Sunderland, Man United really need a victory at Old Trafford and with a good home record, Louis Van Gaal will be backing his team to do the job.
United are now in fourth position but seventh placed Tottenham Hotspur are a mere three points away which is indicative of how tight the race is. Southampton have fallen out of the top four after their loss against Liverpool last weekend and the scousers face a tricky fixture against Manchester City in the weekend.
United really need to make hay against the lower placed sides since their run-up until the end of the season is not looking the easiest with games against Arsenal (one in FA Cup and one in league), Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton, Spurs, and Liverpool all on the horizon.
Van Gaal confirmed van Persie will miss today’s game with an ankle injury he sustained against Swansea last weekend but Michael Carrick and James Wilson are available, meaning that van Persie has a full squad to choose from other than the missing van Persie.
As for Sunderland, Emmanuel Giaccherini will miss today’s game against United. Jack Rodwell, Billy Jones and Will Buckley are among others who will also miss out for Sunderland.
Man United could be heavily reliant on Wayne Rooney to score some much needed goals. Only three points will give the players the confidence and breathing space going into a tough run of fixtures over the next two months. Ander Herrera should also retain his place in the side after a decent performance against Swansea that did his reputation no harm.
Jermain Defoe has been a bit of a rejuvenation for manager Gus Poyet but Sunderland have been rather average all season and lie in a lowly 16th place on the cusp of a battle for relegation. Defoe’s movement and eye for goal will be key to Sunderland’s chances against United.
I’m expecting a comfortable victory for Man United but it will be interesting to see if they manage to keep a clean sheet. I am going to say no and give Sunderland the benefit of the doubt considering Man United have looked like they find one way or another to give the opposition one goal (at least over the past 6-7 games).
Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland