Sunderland face Man United in the early Saturday TV game - read our match preview.
As we enter the final third of the season we’ve got a potentially season defining round of Premier League action. Super Sunday sees the top four face off against each other and that means there is a great chance for United to close the gap on the teams above them. However, they might not find it easy, with Sunderland showing signs of life in their battle for survival.
The Black Cats had a memorable comeback to snatch a point at Liverpool, at least for the part of the crowd that remained. That followed an excellent second half against Man City in their previous match where they were unfortunate not to grab an equaliser. Furthermore, while Norwich scored three times here in their opening home game of the season they’ve since conceded just 10 goals in 11 matches at the Stadium of Light. Unfortunately, they’ve lost five of those matches by 1-0 scores and they’ve scored just four goals in 11 meetings with United since 2010/11. Their attack does look sharper though, as they’ve scored in five of their last six games and in Jermain Defoe they have a striker in great form, with six goals already in 2016, while Wahbi Khazri has brought some extra creativity following his January move from France.
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Sunderland have lost their last four home games against top-half teams – all by 1-0 scores – but they’ve drawn seven of 15 such matches since the start of last season as 11 of the matches have had fewer than three goals and seven have had fewer than two. Given how United have played for much of this season another low scoring game could well be on the cards and this fixture has seen just seven goals in the past five years combined.
Man Utd have certainly shown a lot more energy and positivity in the past couple of games, though they were guilty of sitting back once they took the lead at Stamford Bridge last weekend. The question is whether they can sustain this improvement and with just 11 wins in 32 away games under LvG it has to be debatable. Just two of those wins were by more than a single goal and certainly if you fancied the Red Devils to take the three points the 3.6 to win by exactly one goal looks a lot nicer than the 1.8 for the straight win. However, eight of their 17 trips to bottom-half teams since the start of last season have ended all-square. That includes four of their trips to the bottom-six finishers last term, while the half-time draw is again an option after landing at Chelsea, as 19 of United’s 32 away matches since the start of last season have been level at the break.
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