Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

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  • 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.

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.

What they’re saying

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.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

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An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.