Manchester United has a chance to get back to winning ways and put pressure on the top of the table as they travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.
The Red Devils have suffered disappointing draws with West Brom and Everton in their last two, with just one goal scored between the two matches, and questions have been raised over Jose Mourinho’s pragmatic approach to games. The fight for the top four had been a true battle, but if they fail to win here, they risk being left behind, currently seven points back of Manchester City.
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As he often does, Mourinho has defied his own comments, having only a week ago said he doesn’t believe Luke Shaw has the work ethic to succeed at a club like Manchester United, only to name him in the starting lineup today. Mourinho issued a warning before the match, telling the media, “if he doesn’t perform exceptionally well, he doesn’t come back into the team.”
Sergio Romero also starts in goal with David De Gea missing his second straight match due to an injury he suffered against West Brom. Antonio Valencia returns at right-back, while Ashley Young misses out after an injury against Everton, while Wayne Rooney remains out with an ankle problem. Henrikh Mkhitaryan also comes in after his injury during the international break. Marouane Fellaini takes the captain’s armband for the first time during his Manchester United stay.
For Sunderland, the Black Cats seem the best bet to find themselves in the Championship next season. They sit a massive 10 points back of safety, and manager David Moyes has – fairly or unfairly – taken the brunt of the criticism. Today, with all the pressure on, they will be without Adnan Januzaj against his parent club United, while John O'Shea misses out for a second time as he takes leave after the death of his father.
Jermain Defoe starts up front for Sunderland, having not scored since the club’s last win, a 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace back on February 2nd, a win that seems like years ago. Defoe has never scored against a Jose Mourinho-managed team, and if he fires another blank, the Black Cats likely have little chance to save their Premier League status.
Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Oviedo, Denayer, Kone, Larsson, Rodwell, Cattermole, Ndong, Anichebe, Defoe.
Bench: Mannone, Djilbodji, Borini, Pienaar, Khazri, Manquillo, Gibson.
Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Bailly, Rojo, Shaw; Fellaini, Herrera; Lingard, Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic.
Bench: Pereira, Tuanzebe, Fosu-Mensah, Blind, Carrick, Martial, Rashford.