Sir Alex Ferguson has been embroiled in a last-day title battle beforehand and knows the problems that can happen. In 1995, Manchester United needed to beat West Ham United away at Upton Park and hope Liverpool would defeat Blackburn at Anfield. Ferguson’s men couldn’t get past the Hammers, Blackburn were beaten at Liverpool, and lost the title by a point.
In 2012, Manchester City are ahead of the Red Devils on goal difference and United will be hopeful former player Mark Hughes can stop a City win as he travels with his QPR side. United have to concentrate solely on beating a tricky Sunderland side at the Stadium of Light and hope that news from the Etihad Stadium is positive. City were eight points behind United at the beginning of April, but after the Manchester derby defeat, Roberto Mancini’s side moved back to the top of the table.
Ferguson will be without Chris Smalling for the trip to the North East after he was ruled out with a groin problem, which will also see him ruled out of England’s Euro 2012 campaign. Jonny Evans missed out on last weekend’s 2-0 win against Swansea, so defensive options are limited. Up front, Danny Welbeck is sidelined with an ankle problem, so Javier Hernandez is expected to partner Wayne Rooney in attack.
Sunderland are in poor form, which could be a good sign for United as they look to do their part with a victory. Martin O’Neill’s side were beaten 2-1 by Fulham last weekend and that extends their run without a win to seven games. However, the Black Cats can still finish in the top half, but will need a win over United for that to happen. The early euphoria under O’Neill has worn off slightly, but Sunderland players will be hopeful to finish for the summer on a high.
Former United defender Wes Brown has returned to training following a lengthy knee problem, but the game against his former club is likely to be too soon for him. Another ex-Red in Kieran Richardson will be on the sidelines along with Sebastian Larsson after both underwent hernia surgery. Titus Bramble will be back in the squad after recovering from an Achilles problem.
United know they need a victory and with the vast experience in their squad, this should come as no problem away at the Stadium of Light. However, City have been dominant at home this season, so even victory for the Red Devils will not be enough for Ferguson’s side to pull off a remarkable last day title win.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland