Date: 14th December 2012 at 8:48pm
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On the back of an important three points last week, United are pressed in to action again this weekend, hosting Premiership relegation candidate’s Sunderland at Old Trafford.

Despite entering the weekend six points clear at the top of the league, Saturday’s 3pm kick off follows title rivals Manchester City’s lunchtime visit to Newcastle United – the result of which will have a big say in the atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams.

Team news:

Big news ahead of Saturday’s game is that Nemanja Vidic is expected to make his comeback, after being sidelined for three months with a knee injury.

Timely too, as Jonny Evans is out with a hamstring problem.  Anders Lindegaard is available after missing the derby to be at the birth of his first child.

Kagawa, Nani  and Anderson all have medium term injuries and wont be up for consideration, and Wayne Rooney has reportedly been struck down with a virus, and may not be fit.

For the visitors, Adam Johnson (dead leg) and Danny Rose (ankle) are likely to be out.  United old boys Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown aren’t available for selection either.

Steven Fletcher may return after an ankle injury.

Old Boys:

In recent years, Sunderland have a few of United’s old guard on their books.

No fewer than five of their current first team squad were once part of the United team sheet, and although Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley will be missing, Louis Saha, Frazier Campbell and John O’Shea can expect a warm Old Trafford welcome when the Black Cats warm up on Saturday.

Brown and O’Shea were signed by then-manager Steve Bruce, another United old-boy, who also helped the development of Danny Welbeck after taking him on loan for the season.  Kieran Richardson is another recent former red who had a few seasons in the North East, he left them in the summer of 2012 for a move to Fulham.

Not so welcome…

The Old Trafford welcome for the opposition will be strictly reserved for the former players this weekend, as our lot remember all too clearly the home supporters at the Stadium of Light on the final day of last season.

The Sunderland crowd, at the end of their 39th consecutive season without a trophy, needed something to celebrate and chose to go wild at United finishing runners up in the Premiership.  This display of small-time-clubmanship meant that a lot of United fans lost respect for what they thought was a decent set of fans who supported a ‘sleeping giant’.  We were wrong there though, and as Sir Alex said at the end of season awards, we wont forget that.

Fast Facts

  • Sunderland haven’t won at Old Trafford for 44 years.  Saturday will be their 26th visit since then
  • If Javier Hernandez plays, it’ll mark his 100th game for the reds
  • John O’Shea made 256 Premier League appearances for United. If he plays at the weekend, it’ll be the 300th Premier League game of his career.
  • United will be looking to wrap up their 10th league victory in their last eleven games.

With a comfortable margin of six points at the top of the table, the doom and gloom that was spouting from people’s lips a week ago has suddenly evaporated.  We’re not doing bad really, are we?  With that, the confidence is at it’s highest so far this season, and the boost of our captain returning to the fold can only further strengthen the feeling.

Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.

For football conversation (not lectures!) and other incoherent babble and banter, follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab