Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

Tough battle in the North East as Mackems try to stay afloat and United reaches for PL title contention.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United smiles during a training session ahead of their Champions League Group A match against Shakhtar Donetsk at their Carrington Training Complex on October 01, 2013 in Manchester, England.

    •     Sunderland have not beaten United in the league for 22 years
    •     Manchester United have won the last five games vs. the Black Cats
    •     The Mackems have picked up just three points in their last 10 PL games


    On Saturday afternoon at the Stadium of Light, beleaguered Sunderland take on a Manchester United (12:30pm ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) also struggling at the start of the season.

    For the full schedule of NBC Sports' coverage of Premier League Soccer, visit http://www.nbcsports.com/PremierLeagueSchedule


    However the Black Cats’ situation seems much worse, with Sunderland rock bottom of the table with just one point from their opening six games.

    As for United, new manager David Moyes has had an acrimonious start to the campaign, with three defeats from their opening six games. Those losses came against Liverpool, Manchester City and most surprisingly, West Brom last weekend. Moyes will be looking for a reaction from his side, especially after letting a 1-0 lead slip late on against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.

    In the dugout for Sunderland, Kevin Ball will again be taking charge on an interim basis, as the Mackems board searches for their long-term replacement for Paolo Di Canio. Following the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at home last Sunday, Sunderland could very quickly become cut off from the rest of the league at the bottom of the table. Favorites for the vacant managers job include Gus Poyet and Tony Pulis, amongst others.

    On the injury front, the home side have no fresh worries, with Steven Fletcher still recovering from his shoulder injury. As for Untied, Rio Ferdinand and Tom Cleverley could miss out but Wilfried Zaha, Anderson and Fabio could all return.

    Expect a tough battle up in the North East, with the Mackems scrapping for their lives and United eager to climb back into PL title contention.

    David Moyes on Sunderland’s struggles: “There is a long way to go in the Premier League. It’s a long season. You’ll see great changes as the season goes on. We’ll hang in there and get ourselves as close to the top as soon as we can. You never can tell at clubs but you’re always disappointed when people lose their jobs. I don’t know the ins and outs of Sunderland and the workings of it. You never like to see people lose their job.”

    Moyes on Manchester United’s poor start: “We need to concentrate on the Premier League now and getting back on track. We have really good players, they know the standards they’ve set and together we’ll work to get it right. In any new job you learn as you go, and I’m in that position as well. I knew they were good players, but there will be difficult times as well.”

    Jozy Altidore on what Sunderland must do to win: “I can’t wait, it will be a great experience to play them. For me though it’s another opportunity to give everything that I have for the fans and everything that I have for the club then hopefully we can get that first win because it’s all that matters. It has been incredible to play in some of the games that I have and to play in front of our fans and in our amazing stadium every weekend. Obviously I want to hit the back of the net but if we can keep the intensity up then we’re going to score a lot of goals.”

    Prediction

    All signs lead to an away win, despite Manchester United’s recent poor form in the Premier League. Sunderland still haven’t got a manager and with Untied wounded and ready to launch themselves back towards the top of the Premier League, I would expect a reaction from them. But after a long trip to Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday and also letting in a late equalizer, this could be a good time to play United. Expect another stumbling display, but a Manchester United win.