Old Trafford, Manchester
Premier League 2016/17
Monday 26th December 2016 – KO 15:00
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Lee Mason
Manchester United welcome David Moyes back to Old Trafford on Boxing Day as the resurgent Red Devils look to win four Premier League matches in a row since the 22nd March 2015 when United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield, after previously beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-0, Newcastle United 1-0 and Sunderland 2-0. United’s streak went on for six matches in a row, also beating Aston Villa 3-1 and Manchester City 4-2, a great period of matches under Louis van Gaal, finishing fourth at the end of the season. United, though, are much better this season, needing time to get things sorted, but at this stage, Jose Mourinho has something good going on. Injuries had mounted up over recent weeks, but Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are all available for the match on Boxing Day, with Luke Shaw the only absentee from the squad – not long from his return. Speaking at his press conference on Friday, Mourinho said:
“It’s good to have everyone available apart from Luke Shaw, who is not far [away]. In the central defender position, we now have all of them.
“Chris Smalling is back, Eric Bailly is back, Phil Jones is fine, Marcos Rojo is fine, Daley Blind is fine, so it’s a position where it’s very important to have some stability in the options. We were in a difficult position a couple of months ago but now we are safe. We know that Bailly is going to the African Cup [of Nations] in January but, for the next three matches, we have them.”
Jose Mourinho has got Manchester United firing again, part of that is because he loves the club, that can be seen from what he has been saying about his appointment, since the day it was announced, until now. Personally, I was not convinced he was the right man for the job, but looking at what we have experienced, despite the media comparing his start to that of Moyes and Van Gaal, things are so much more different. The style of football has adapted and United have been through a tough period. Those things can be excused when things have started to click, which is where United seem to be at this moment in time. Mourinho, speaking about the initial pressure of the role, said:
“For me, it was easy to acclimatise. It’s a difficult job, but it’s easy to feel at home, easy to feel good at the club, easy to feel that the club wants to progress and that the people want to be happy again. I felt good immediately, I’ve had five or six months here and have felt right at home so, for me, it was easy.
“I thought about the difficulty of the job, I thought to myself why the club in the past three years was going – in terms of results – in a different direction. I tried to answer that, but I couldn’t think much about coming to United, it was an easy decision.”
Mourinho also spoke of the comparisons to those before him, saying:
“Honestly, I don’t like to compare. I think you know me; you don’t hear many opinions from me, many stories or comparing with previous clubs. When I leave clubs, I close the door, I close the chapter, I wish them well and say goodbye. I try to be happy.
“What I can say is that, here, I have felt people with open arms. It’s not just a very calm and intelligent board and owners, they know what they want, they have big experience already and they’re very calm and pragmatic – I have good conditions to work.
“Expectations are high, results are up and down and we are in a position where we don’t want to be. I have passion for my new work. I’m feeling really happy here.”
Manchester United Form: WWWWD
West Bromwich Albion 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 2-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 W, Zorya Luhansk 2-0 W, Everton 1-1 D
Manchester United have been playing some good football at this stage of the season, winning three Premier League matches in a row, for the first time since the start of the season, cutting the deficit of the teams above them. Arsenal, for instance, were eleven points clear of United, but now their cushion is just four points, showing that it is never too late to show some resurgence. United had been playing some good possession-based, attacking football for much of the season, but at times it did not go their way. Ten matches unbeaten and United have started something ahead of the busy festive period. Victories over Sunderland and Middlesbrough would send United into 2017 in high spirits and possibly higher in the league table.
Sunderland Form: WLLWL
Watford 1-0 W, Chesea 1-0 L, Swansea City 3-0 L, Leicester 2-1 W, Liverpool 2-0 L
Sunderland did not start very well this season under the guidance of David Moyes, earning 14 points in the 17 matches already played this season. Sitting at the top of the bottom three in the relegation positions, Sunderland needs to make things work in order to survive this season, which would be a crying shame if they did. For the past few seasons, Sunderland had sat in relegation positions for much of the seasons, saving themselves before the end of the season comes, defying relegation despite playing poor football for the majority of the season. Many will be hoping that David Moyes can do the Premier League a favour and take Sunderland back to the league they belong in – the Championship.
Manchester United Top Scorers:
16 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 5 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 4 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney, 2 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 1 – Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling
Sunderland Top Scorers:
8 – Jermain Defoe, 3 – Victor Anichebe, Patrick van Aanholt, 2 – Patrick McNair, 1 – Adnan Januzaj
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Luke Shaw (knock)
Manager: David Moyes
Goalkeepers: Vito Mannone, Mika, Jordan Pickford, Max Stryjek
Defenders: Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt, Jason Denayer, Papy Djilobodji, John O’Shea, Paddy McNair, Javier Manquillo, Donald Love, Lamine Koné, Tom Beadling, Thomas Robson, Michael Ledger, Josh Robson
Midfielders: Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson, Jack Rodwell, Wahbi Khazri, Duncan Watmore, Didier N’Dong, Steven Pienaar, Ethan Robson, Jan Kirchhoff, Rees Greenwood, George Honeyman, Adnan Januzaj, Lynden Gooch
Forwards: Fabio Borini, Jermain Defoe, Victor Anichebe, Joel Asoro, Josh Maja
Injuries and Suspensions: Billy Jones (hip), Jan Kirchhoff (knee), Javier Manquillo (knock), Steven Pienaar (calf), Duncan Watmore (ACL), Lynden Gooch (ankle), Paddy McNair (ACL), Lee Cattermole (hip), Jack Rodwell (hamstring)
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland