Manchester United’s former manager David Moyes returns to face his former club now being managed by Jose Mourinho of course for the first time since he was relieved of his duties back in May of 2014 when he failed to get the Red-Devils into the top 4 and was replaced by Ryan Giggs on an interim basis for the last 4 games of the season. Moyes took some pot-shots at his perceived loss of United’s tradition ahead of the match as we reported yesterday.
Moyes actually has a better winning percentage (50%) over his United career than Jose Mourinho does so far in his United career but based on the improved play of United this looks unlikely to be the case at the end of the season. A big part of the improved play of United has been the 10 goals scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his last 9 games in all competitions. The Swedish legend has banged in 40 goals in Decembers while playing in the major five European Leagues since he became a Juventus player back in 2004-05 and unsurprisingly that is his best goal tally in a single month throughout his career. So we can expect Zlatan’s fine form to continue. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan looking likely to return after his ankle injury United should have the creative spark they were enjoying from the Armenian playmaker where he scored in consecutive games before he got injured and missed the last United game. You have to go back to May of 2014 to find the last time United lost to the Black Cats at Old Trafford in the Premier League and the Reds have won 16 of the other 24 games played with 7 games drawn so United have to be considered favourites. Add to that United have won more Premier League games on Boxing Day than any other team (18) and Jose Mourinho should be quietly confident.
Sunderland’s ageless striker Jermain Defoe has scored 6 times on Boxing Day in the Premier League, which exceeds any other active player in the top flight. While Sunderland looked to be improving after finally winning against Bournemouth and also pulling off wins against Hull City and Leicester City in late November and early December the side managed to escape from the bottom 3 briefly but 2 losses in their last 3 games have put them back into the bottom 3 in 18th position. So while the Black Cats have certainly improved lately after a very slow start they still have a lot to do to get out of the relegation scrap.
We see United continuing their recent improved performances and having too much for Sunderland on Boxing Day and we see the teams playing out a pulsating Premier League match but one that United will win 3-1 with Zlatan on the scoresheet again.