After their midweek heroics in the Spain, Manchester United quickly return to action in Barclays Premier League as they journey to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland.
United defeated Valencia 1-0 to earn only their second win in 19 match away to Spanish opposition, and now they hope that their luck changes in Premier League matches as well.
United have not won away from Old Trafford in any of their three away matches in the Premier League with their last win came on May 2nd, which oddly enough was 1-0 against Saturday’s challenger, Sunderland.
The Red Devils have scored an amazing seven goals in their first three away matches, but they have also conceded seven as well, which means they have only taken three points from a possible nine on the road.
The Black Cats have proven to be a very formidable side this season at the Stadium of Light by defeating Manchester City (1-0), and drawing with Arsenal (1-1) at home, so it will be another tough test for United.
Sunderland, who are led by former United captain and second-year manager, Steve Bruce, come into the match after following their 2-2 draw with Liverpool last weekend, which leaves them in 11th place in the Premier League standings.
Despite facing three sides in the top six in the standings, the Mackems have only lost once all season a 1-0 loss against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthornes.
Their lone blemish on their season is only surpassed by Fulham and Manchester United, who have yet to lose in the Premier League this season.
Even though they have yet to lose this season, United’s opponents are full of confidence thinking that they can nick something from this game – and Sunderland’s leading goal scorer has already had his say.
Darren Bent, who has tallied five goals already this season, said that he is waiting for United to come to the Stadium of Light, because he does not know when a big team has won there.
But Darren forgets – simply because he was not with Sunderland prior to last season – that United have taken ALL nine points from their previous three meetings – 3-1 in 2005/06, 4-0 in 2007/08, a 2-1 in 2008/09, and a 1-0 win in 2009/10.
In other words, it has been since August of 2002 that United went to the Wearside and did not come with maximum points (1-1 draw) – mainly because of Sunderland’s inability to stay in the top flight of English football.
Everyone knows that Bent will be a thorn in United’s side and a stern test for any of the center-back pairings that Sir Alex Ferguson chooses, but there are some other players that need to be tracked as well.
Club captain, Lee Cattermole, is a pesky, annoying player who superbly disrupts opposing attacks with all-out, tenacious style of play.
The former Middlesbrough-man can be a liability as well, because he has already been sent off twice in his four Premier League matches this season.
Bruce was one of the busiest managers this past off-season shaping his squad for the 2010/11 season by making no fewer than 22 transactions from the middle of June to the close of the transfer window.
Asamoah Gyan the his most notable summer signing as the Ghanaian forward moved to Sunderland from Stade Rennes for a cool £13 million.
The former United captain is a fan of always bringing in some of his former players to his new club and Titus Bramble became the latest player to follow him from Wigan Athletic to Sunderland.
A lot of the players that Bruce has brought in have been loan signings with John Mensah (Lyon), Nedum Onuoha (Man City), Ahmed Al Muhammadi (ENPPI) and David Welbeck (Man United) all joining the Mackems.
Welbeck, who is ineligible to play Saturday, because Sir Alex turned down Bruce’s offer to sign him permanently, is the latest in a long line of Man United players to play for Sunderland.
Phillip Bardsley, Kieran Richardson, Fraizer Campbell and David Healy are current Sunderland players that learned their skills in the United youth academies and reserve team.
Unsurprisingly, Bruce finally got rid of a player who he thought was a headache by offloading Kenwyne Jones to Stoke City for £8 million.
With two of their Barclays Premier League title rivals playing one another – Chelsea-Arsenal – Manchester United need to make sure that they take all three points from the Stadium of Light and see off a stingy Sunderland side.
Out: A. Valencia (leg), R. Giggs (hamstring), O. Hargreaves (knee); Doubtful: W. Rooney (ankle), P. Scholes (calf), G. Obertan (ankle)
E. van der Sar; W. Brown, N. Vidic, J. Evans, P. Evra; D. Fletcher, D. Gibson, M. Carrick, Nani; D. Berbatov, M. Owen
Sunderland 1, Manchester United 2