As Manchester United prepare for the inevitable first 15-20 minute onslaught that David Moyes will have his players pumped to carry out at the beginning of Monday’s Boxing Day match between the 2 clubs, Sunderland will be hoping to take the crowd out of the game early. Jose Mourinho will have his players instructed to maintain their composure absorb the Black Cats’ pressure and hit on them on the break hopefully for an early goal.
The injury report from United’s sick bay is so-so. They have long-term absentee striker James Wilson who is not expected back until likely next season due to the ACL knee injury he sustained while on loan with Derby and as stated his return before next season’s off season is highly unlikely. The best news from the sick-bay is that both creative force Henrikh Mkhitaryan and defensive stalwart Eric Bailly are both due back from ankle and knee injuries respectively and should give a big boost not only to the calibre of player on the field but also to the confidence of the United side. Before Bailly was injured United were looking solid in defense with Bailly looking assured and composed at the heart of the United defense while Mkhitaryan had come into his own setting up chances and looking like the player he was bought to be plus he had scored the winner in 2 consecutive games before being carried off late vs Palace with an ankle problem which caused him to miss the 2-0 win over West Brom. If fit Jose Mourinho will surely restore Mkhitaryan back to the side and allow him to build off his recent run of 5 consecutive excellent games for United prior to injury and you kind of think the Armenian will deliver the goods. Bailly has been a beast so far in his United career and he will add solidity and confidence to the entire team with his play so hopefully both will pass late fitness tests and provide 2 massive boosts to the United team ahead of the battle vs Moyes’ men. The last miss for United is £29 million left-back Luke Shaw who is still trying to get back super fit after various niggling inuries which have dogged him since returning from his serious leg-break suffered in the Champions League last season. Hopefully the youngster can get over the hump and is able to start playing first XI football again to restore his confidence and fitness and return to being one of the best left-backs in the Premier League.
For Sunderland they have the worst infirmary in the League with 9 injuries. We hope you are sitting comfortably: defender Billy Jones has a hip injury, Steven Pienaar has a calf muscle strain and Javier Manquillo has a knock and all 3 face late fitness tests and could be declared fit to face United if recovered from their respective ailments; Jack Rodwell has a hamstring strain and all being well could be back around January 14th 2017; Lynden Gooch has an ankle injury and is scheduled to return on February 25th 2017; Lee Cattermole with a hip injury is not due to return until March 4th 2017; Jan Kirchhoff with a cartiliage knee injury is due to return on March 18th 2017; Paddy McNair with a nasty ACL knee injury is not likely to return until July 1st 2017 and finally the unfortunate Duncan Watmore has no return date as yet from his ACL knee injury.
So United certainly have the advantage on the injury front by 4 to 9 depending on fitness tests and also on the form front as Jose’s men sit in 6th on 30 points after 3 successive wins and Sunderland sit in 18th spot on 14th points. United certainly have recent form on their side. Read our match preview for further insight and analysis plus our prediction.