The last time that Manchester United emerged from the Stadium of Light with three points, David Moyes was sat in the opposite dugout. Now, Moyes is under intense pressure as his side seem destined for the drop, but United now have Jose Mourinho in charge and will be desperate for another three points to aid their race for the top four after dropping points against Everton in midweek.
With only one win in 2017, that 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace has long been wiped from the memories of many fans after five defeats and one draw since then have seen their relegation fears all but confirmed. Whilst defensively things had seemed to improve, with a clean sheet against Burnley a welcome surprise, they are back to their worst after a concerning capitulation against Leicester City in midweek.
Having taken their unbeaten run to 20 Premier League games with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last-minute equaliser from the penalty spot at Old Trafford in midweek, they are without a victory since mid-March after picking up consecutive home draws. Now they’ll be looking for blood and their third away win on the trot.
David Moyes is unlikely to make any changes to the side beaten by Leicester in midweek with a 4-1-4-1 set-up likely to be the way unless the Scotsman decides to go ultra-defensive against his former club as he has opted for against big clubs at other times this season.
Jose Mourinho will have little choice but to keep the same defence, unless Matteo Darmian comes into contention or Luke Shaw is handed a shock start, but Paul Pogba is expected to return in midfield. The front three that struggled to beat Joel Robles in midweek will continue.
Victor Anichebe could return to contention after overcoming a knee injury but it is expected that he’ll still be sidelined for a little while longer. The same is true of defender Jan Kirchhoff for a similar problem, with Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore long-term absentees out for the season.
Paul Pogba should be fit enough to start after a spell on the sidelines and a substitute appearance in midweek, but a number of other key players won’t be available. Phil Jones is the closest to a return from his broken toe picked up on international duty but remains a few days away, whilst Chris Smalling is also a week or so away from a comeback from a knee injury. Wayne Rooney’s ankle injury has also ruled him out whilst Juan Mata is fighting to return this season after a groin operation.
Verdict: Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United
Sunderland have been truly woeful and seem to only be counting down the days until their relegation is confirmed, so this could be a field day for United. That said, they have struggled to find the back of the net as frequently as could be expected. A victory is likely, but possibly not at the kind of cricket scores that could be predicted.