Sunday 9th April. 1:30PM. Sky Sports 1
Super Sunday kicks off with a fascinating battle at the Stadium of Light as rock-bottom Sunderland entertain Manchester United in a match where only three points will do.
While these sides haven’t been the most frequent providers of entertainment in recent weeks, their respective situations should inspire an entertaining affair. Will the Red Devils find a way to let their quality shine through or will Sunderland finally experience some joy?
Whatever happens, it could have importance at both ends of the table.
Luck Continues To Elude Black Cats
After years of escaping the drop against the odds, it looks like relegation is finally set to hit Sunderland in 2016-17. In truth, the Black Cats are heading towards the Championship without even the slightest sign of a fight.
It has been a truly horrific season for David Moyes, and things are unlikely to get any better as his former club visit on Sunday. After all, his men have registered just just 24 goals and 20 points all season. Furthermore, Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford aside, they’re lacking any real quality.
Sunderland have a number of ex-United players on their books, but none of them have the quality to perform at the top level any more. In truth, a goal difference of -29 says it all.
The Black Cats were also well beaten in the reverse clash on Boxing Day, although they did win the corresponding home clash in 2015-16. Even if they repeat that feat on Sunday, it’ll only delay the inevitable. Still, at least it would be a memorable afternoon in an otherwise forgettable season.
Mourinho’s Men Cannot Afford To Drop More Ground
The unbeaten league run is still going strong, but back-to-back home draws against West Brom and Everton have left Manchester United facing a huge uphill battle in the bid for a top four finish. If they are going to qualify for the Champions League through the domestic route, they must get back to winning ways at Sunderland.
Jose Mourinho’s men arguably weren’t punished as hard as they could’ve been by their rivals. Nonetheless, the odds already looked stacked against them, and a lack of goals has been the chief reason for their recent issues. If Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t score, it’s hard to see where that inspiration comes from.
However, they could be in for a more productive afternoon against the division’s worst side. The visitors might only need the one goal to secure all three points too, especially as the Black Cats are now six games without a goal.
Then again, with one eye cast towards Thursday’s increasingly important Europa League trip to Belgium, the Red Devils may be more vulnerable than ever.
Sunderland v Manchester United Betting
Despite their recent stumbles, it’s no surprise to learn that Manchester United are heavy favourites for this one. 888sport have priced them 2/5 for the win while Sunderland are available at 13/2. The draw can be backed at 7/2.
Even with all their issues, it’s hard to see United not winning this one, and Ibrahimovic is the obvious source of goals.
The Swede has 16 league goals to his name already, and scored in the reverse clash at Old Trafford also. Will he increase his personal tally at the Stadium of Light? At odds of 4/5 for a goal at any stage, we think it’s well worth backing.
The visitors will want a strong start after their last two matches, and will also want to have this wrapped up early due to Thursday’s clash with Anderlecht. With this in mind, there could well be early goals followed by a classic Mourinho shutdown.
At 12/5, we’re predicting more goals in the first half than the second.