Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland will be hoping to recover from a turbulent week off the field as they look to claim a first home league win over Manchester United in nearly two decades.
It was March 1997 – just a month after United left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was born – when Sunderland last earned all three points against the Red Devils at the Stadium of Light, with their winless run in this fixture now at 13 games.
However, a spirited comeback from 2-0 down to earn a point at Anfield last weekend has breathed fresh life into the Black Cats’ survival bid, and they could go just a point off safety with a win in the early kick-off, which would increase the pressure on their relegation rivals.
Sunderland have won just three times in 12 home games so far this season, and scored just 13 goals in front of their own fans; with Manchester United’s defensive record, this game is unlikely to see a feast of goals.
The visitors were denied what would have been a vital three points as Diego Costa’s injury-time strike rescued a point for Chelsea last weekend, a result which left United six points off their neighbours Manchester City in the last Champions League spot.
Louis van Gaal’s side have lost just once in their past seven games, but with Thursday night Europa League commitments about to kick in for the remainder of the season, this will test the depth of their squad to the limit.
Having already lost at Bournemouth and Swansea this season, United need to be wary of slipping up in another away fixture against a lowly side – a defeat at the Stadium of Light would give them a mountain to climb to make the top four.
The hosts have several injury concerns for this fixture, with Duncan Watmore, Younes Kaboul, Jeremain Lens and Seb Larsson all sidelined. Fabio Borini has recovered from illness and is likely to play up front, whilst defender Billy Jones is doubtful.
Saturday’s match is likely to come too soon for Ashley Young and Bastian Schweinsteiger to make their returns for the visitors, with Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo also out. Adnan Januzaj and Guillermo Varela limped out of their u-21s game on Monday and are unlikely to play any part this weekend.
League Position: Sunderland – 19th (20 pts); Manchester United – 5th (41 pts)
Last Meeting: Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland (September 26, 2015)
Form: Sunderland – WWLDLD; Manchester United – WDWLWD
Key Players: Sunderland – Jermain Defoe; Manchester United – Wayne Rooney
Shoot Says: Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United