Kick Off: Saturday 30th March
Live on TV: 12.45pm Sky Sports 2
Thankfully, Premier League action resumes this weekend following a painfully uninspiring spell of international matches.
Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill will have felt the pain more than anyone, having seen key striker Stephen Fletcher stretchered off during Scotland’s clash with Wales – just what you need ahead of a date with Manchester United.
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Indeed, the Barclays Premier League champions-elect will be paying a visit to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and it’s a fixture that O’Neill must have looked at the start of the season and thought “0 points”. However, the Irishman probably didn’t predict that his charges would be in such dire straits at this stage of the campaign.
The Black Cats have been woeful for the most part this term, to be perfectly honest. They’re currently hovering perilously close to the relegation zone, having accrued a measly three points from their last seven matches.
Not so long ago, visiting the Stadium of Light was a prospect that no club relished. Nowadays, however, Sunderland’s defence is not so frugal and that cutting-edge up front is no longer a feature. Even Norwich left Wearside with a point, despite being reduced to 10 men after just 30 minutes, a fortnight ago.
Furthermore, Sunderland have won just once in 23 Premier League meetings with United. Bearing that statistic in mind, you could argue that the home side should be bigger than 9/2 with Paddy Power for Saturday’s match, and that the 8/13 on offer about the Red Devils is pretty good value, as far as odds on shots go.
It’s extremely difficult to predict anything but a comfortable victory for the runaway league leaders who have not tasted defeat in their last 17 domestic games. United haven’t conceded in their last five in the league and, with no Stephen Fletcher to rely on, the Black Cats will struggle to give the visitors’ rock-solid backline any real problems. Consequently, the 17/10 about Man Utd to win to nil with Paddy Power looks the way to go.
Robin van Persie, the second highest goalscorer in the English top-flight, is 3/1 to strike first and 8/11 to score anytime, while Wayne Rooney is 4/1 and 11/10 respectively in those markets. Rooney, who scored for England during the week, has either scored or assisted 21 of United’s goals this season and I’ll be having some of the 4/1 about him opening the scoring, too.
Manchester United to win to nil – 17/10 (Paddy Power)
Wayne Rooney in the first goalscorer market – 4/1 (Paddy Power)