Yet again United dropped points at home on Tuesday night when Everton visit Old Trafford. Despite this, with Liverpool also drawing and City losing to the Champions elect, United’s hopes of a top four finish are not quite over just yet. The Reds travel to the North East on Sunday to take on David Moyes’ doomed Sunderland. To keep it simple, this has got to be a win and nothing else. A trip to Anderlecht in the Europa League Quarter-Final on Thursday cannot occupy the focus needed to get the job done this Sunday. If United fail to win, a Europa League triumph will surely be the only way Champions League football would return to Old Trafford. Sunderland are a team destined for relegation – finally! They have avoided the drop by the skin of their teeth for the previous four or five years and it seems not even the journalist-threatening David Moyes can save them this year. Sitting eight points adrift of safety with eight games remaining, the fat lady is warming up her vocal cords.
Paul Pogba should be available to start after featuring in the second half against Everton on Tuesday and looked healthy. It seems Wayne Rooney is back on the doctor’s table after suffering pain in both of his ankles. An injury he picked up when coming on as a substitute against West Brom last Saturday. There is still no return for Chris Smalling, Phil Jones or Juan Mata. Antonio Valencia should return after being rested last game due to tiredness from Colombia’s World Cup Qualifiers.
Sunday is the final day of the second suspension block of the season. It will now take a total of 15 yellow cards for a player to be banned between Monday and the end of the campaign. Zlatan leads the team on eight bookings so should be safe. With Rooney, Herrera and Fellaini all on seven. Sunderland are also free from suspension for Sunday’s game. However, they will be without starlet Adnan Januzaj as he is, of course, on loan from United. Jermain Defoe will be a threat, as he seems to be the only bright light of Sunderland’s team. Defoe has, however, failed to score in his last six Premier League games against Manchester United, since netting against us for Spurs in March 2012.
My prediction is a comfortable 3-0 win for United. I imagine Mourinho has given the players a much-needed kick up the arse after two very averages home performances in the last two fixtures. Hopefully, the Reds can get the job done in style but with the way things have gone recently, I’ll take a 1-0 scrappy win right now.
Sunday’s match at the Stadium of Light kicks off at 13:30. Live on Sky Sports 1.