Man Utd v Sunderland preview
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manchester United look to close the gap at the top on Chelsea to four points.
Manchester United aim to trim the gap on leaders Chelsea to four points with a Good Friday victory against Sunderland, that would relegate the side marooned at the bottom of the table.
United are overwhelming favourites to collect the three points against caretaker manager Kevin Ball's strugglers as they look to extend a nine-match winning run.
Sir Alex Ferguson has denied morning reports that Louis Saha could miss the rest of the season and the Frenchman could even be on the bench, with reserve forward Giuseppe Rossi away at the Dallas Cup in the United States.
"Louis Saha got an injury in training yesterday, it's not serious," asserted Ferguson on Sky Sports News.
"He may be on the bench tomorrow but he'll certainly be fit for Monday.
"That's the only one to report - the rest are fine."
Argentinian defender Gabriel Heinze is also pencilled in for a substitute's slot and another World Cup hopeful, Wes Brown, is expected to start.
Ferguson may freshen things up after Sunday's win against Arsenal but he knows United cannot afford to be complacent as three points and a convincing win would also eat into Chelsea's goal difference advantage.
Sunderland have rarely been well beaten this term, despite their dreadful form, and Ball appreciates the fans will expect a gutsy performance at Old Trafford and against local rivals Newcastle United on Easter Monday.
The Black Cats supporters would not want to be relegated by their fierce foes, although the likelihood is that the inevitable will already have been confirmed by then.
Rory Delap broke his nose in the abandoned clash with Fulham last weekend but could be asked to play through the pain barrier.
The final decision will be left to the former Southampton man, who scored his first goal for the club recently at Everton.
Centre back Steve Caldwell is back from a hamstring strain but influential Argentinian Julio Arca is being tipped to delay his return until the derby clash.
Skysports.com Prediction: 3-0.
It impossible to predict anything other than a home win but, although many will see it as a turkey shoot, Sunderland's spirit should keep the score respectable.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
|Man Utd 1/9 Draw 5/1 Sunderland 20/1|
Rooney to score first goal: 3/1
Click here for full odds with Sky Bet
|Goal Attempts|| || |
|Ave Goals per game||2.00||0.66|
|Shots (excl blocked shots)||416||261|
|% Shots on Target||44%||39%|
|% Goals to Shots||15%||8%|
|Passing|| || |
|Overall Pass Completion %||79%||74%|
|Crossing|| || |
|Cross Completion %||27%||23%|
|Defending|| || |
|Ave goals conceded per game||0.91||1.78|
|Tackles Won %||70%||74%|
|Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions||1760||1857|
|Discipline|| || |