Sunderland are looking to halt an alarming slump in form against champions-elect Manchester United. The Black Cats have gone seven games without a win and have only scored 33 goals all season long to leave them near the bottom of the Premier League form table and only four points above 18th-placed Wigan.
The performances have been nearly as bad as the results and Martin O’Neill’s team are slowly becoming peoples’ outside tips to finish in the bottom three. The Northern Irishman, who has looked devoid of confidence as much as his team has in recent weeks, was not helped by the news that top scorer Steven Fletcher would miss the rest of the season after picking up an ankle injury on international duty with Scotland.
Fletcher’s absence means that the onus will fall on January signing Danny Graham to score the goals that keep Sunderland afloat, though the former Swansea man has not found the net since returning to the North East. Skipper Lee Cattermole was also ruled out until the season’s end with an ongoing knee problem, while Carlos Cuellar will not feature due to an ankle knock. Stephane Sessegnon however should be fit.
Visitors Manchester United may make wholesale changes to their starting XI ahead of their FA Cup quarter final replay with Chelsea just 48 hours later after the culmination of proceedings of the Stadium of Light. Indeed, with the Red Devils currently a mammoth 15 points clear of rivals Manchester City at the top of the table, Sir Alex Ferguson will feel he can afford to leave some of his more established names out.
Thus, the likes of Paul Scholes, Phil Jones and Nani may feature after recovering from injury while Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Anderson, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck are all vying for selection.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland