The reds host Sunderland this Saturday afternoon, again under the control of a certain Mr Ryan Giggs. The Black Cats are no strangers to United this season; with the reds winning the reverse fixture at The Stadium of Light earlier in the season and also famously bowing out to Gus Poyet’s side on penalties in the Capital One Cup after a thrilling two legged encounter. Sunderland come to Old Trafford battling for their lives as they sit just above the relegation zone, whilst in contrast United have that unusual feeling of having nothing of any real note to play for.
The headline team news ahead of the clash is that Robin Van Persie is nearing a return from injury and is contention to take his place on the Old Trafford bench this Saturday. Rafael is still unlikely to feature due to a knock picked up in training a few weeks ago but aside from this Ryan Giggs has a full squad to choose from. Last week there were a few surprises in the Welshman’s team selection, but here’s how he may well line up his side come Saturday:
David De Gea, who else? The Spaniard has been one of United’s few positives this season and that number one spot is most certainly his own. Expect him to continue in the sticks with no reason whatsoever to drop him.
United’s interim manager went with the experience of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the defence last weekend and I expect him to go with the pair again this Saturday. They have had a weeks break and after last Saturday’s clean sheet there seems little need to drop them. With Rafael still a doubt Phil Jones will more than likely start again in the right back position and Patrice Evra should again be a certainty to start in the left back position.
Last weekend Giggs opted for a paring of Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley in the centre of midfield. I expect Carrick to get the nod again but this time with Darren Fletcher alongside him as Tom Cleverley sadly failed to impress again against Norwich. On the right flank I feel Antonio Valencia will start again as he looked full of confidence in the second half last week, showing glimpses of his old self by looking to take players on and have a pop at goal when the opportunity presented itself. Adnan Januzaj was excluded altogether for the Norwich game but Giggs could more than likely shuffle his pack and give the tricky, young Belgian the start he will be craving for on Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest shock of last week’s team selection was the absence of Juan Mata. United’s record signing replaced Danny Welbeck with half an hour to go however and completely changed the game for the reds, bagging two goals in the process. As a result he is a guaranteed started on Saturday in my eyes. Expect him to be rewarded by Giggs with a start in his favoured number ten position. Finally, up top for United will be none other than Danny Welbeck now that Wayne Rooney is injured.
Predicted Starting XI:
Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra;
Valencia, Mata, Januzaj;
Who do you think will be in Giggs’ starting XI? Comment in the section below.