Goals To Illuminate Stadium Of Light On SundayStats
Sunderland v Man Utd
Manchester United got off to an awful start with a home defeat to Swansea last weekend, can they turn it around on a visit to Sunderland on Sunday afternoon?
Sunderland kicked off their season with an entertaining 2-2 draw away from home against West Brom last weekend. A cracking effort from a hugely surprising source in Lee Cattermole opened the scoring before Saido Berahino’s double either side of half-time put the home side in charge. But Sebastian Larsson’s goal five minutes from time earned Gus Poyet’s men a share of the spoils.
If Louis van Gaal was under any illusions as to scale of the task he faces as United boss this season before last weekend he certainly isn’t now as Swansea left Manchester with all three points following a deserved 2-1 win in the Dutchman’s first competitive game in charge.
Ki Sung-Yong opened the scoring with a neat finish from outside the area at the midpoint of the first half before Wayne Rooney’s acrobatic finish levelled the scores just after half-time. Gylfi Sigurdsson then grabbed the winner in his first game since re-joining the club from Spurs over the summer to give Van Gaal a baptism of fire in English football.
Sunderland are expected to be without a pair of defenders with on-loan Santiago Vergini and new arrival Billy Jones struggling for fitness. Italian wide man Emanuele Giaccherini is out until September with a groin problem but winger Will Buckley could make his first start having come on as a substitute against the Baggies.
Van Gaal’s injury list is an extensive one with no fewer than eight first team players potentially missing for this game. Marouane Fellaini was the latest addition to an overloaded treatment table when he injured an ankle in midweek, Jesse Lingard suffered a knee injury in the defeat to Swansea and is sidelined while Danny Welbeck, Anderson and Michael Carrick are all out too.
There’s better news in regard to Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia and Robin van Persie though with the trio all in contention to feature from the outset.
Marcos Rojo is expected to make his debut and boost a desperately sparse defence following the Argentine’s arrival from Sporting Lisbon but Nani is unavailable having moved in the opposite direction on loan for the season.
Head to Head
These sides clashed four times last season with both winning twice, the last of which came with a
1-0 Sunderland win at Old Trafford that all but confirmed their great escape thanks to Larsson’s goal on the half hour.
They traded 2-1 home wins prior to that in the Capital One Cup semi-final, with the Black Cats progressing to the final thanks to a win on penalties by the same scoreline.
Sunderland’s first leg win brought an end to a run of six straight defeats to United while Poyet’s men’s win at the Theatre of Dreams was their first league victory over these opponents since 1997.
Given their current predicament it seems remarkable to see the visitors as short as 8/11 to pick up their first three points of the season although they have won three of their last four at the Stadium of Light and Van Persie’s return gives them a potent attack which is sure to trouble a suspect home rearguard.
At slightly better odds of 5/6 both teams scoring looks a shoo-in though and over 2.5 goals also offers plenty of appeal at 20/23.
In the goalscorers market both Rooney and Van Persie are inseparable at evens to score anytime and 7/2 first, either of which are more than acceptable while the fit-again Steven Fletcher looks best-priced for the hosts at 8/1 to bag the first and a particularly eye-catching 14/5 to hit the net at any stage, especially give the visitors woeful defending last weekend.