Sunday promises to be a day in the football calendar that will be remembered for a long time. Come 17:00 hours, one half of the city of Manchester will be celebrating manically whilst the other half will be drowning their sorrows.
Manchester City starts the day as favourites to and their first title since the days of Joe Mercer. If City can beat Queens Park Rangers, who are notably poor away from home, they will be crowned Champions. Mathematically, United could win the title on goal difference, but it`d take a double figure win, at Sunderland to do so, highly unlikely I think you`ll agree.
But, if United can nick a win and Queens Park Rangers can get a point, or three, at the Etihad Stadium then we will take a 20th top-flight title and, with the way the season has gone, stranger things have happened.
Deep down I reckon Sir Alex Ferguson has conceded the title but the wily old fox continues to participate in his infamous mind-games and, we believe, has already struck the first blow in determining the state of affairs for next season, remarking about a possible City slip up on the last game of the season thereby handing United the title,
“The disappointment of losing the game would be unbelievable.”
“It`s untold what effect it could have on them.”
“A nervous situation could arise if, with 10 or 15 minutes to go, City weren`t winning. The crowd could get a bit uneasy.”
Now that`s a thought!
Sunderland Team News:
Martin O`Neil should be able to call upon the services of Titus Bamble who has had an Achilles problem but will be without the ex-United player Kieran Richardson and Sebastian Larsson, both of whom have had hernia surgery. Another missing will be United old-boy Wes Brown but another who made the same journey, John O`Shea will play.
Player to watch: Lee Cattermole
A fiercely combative midfielder who isn`t afraid to put himself about a bit.
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson will take his squad to the north-east without a raft of players. Out with long term injures are Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher whilst Danny Welbeck will need further time to overcome his recent injury. Also absent will be Michael Carrick (illness0 and Chris Smalling (groin).
A likely starting eleven could be:-
De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Cleverley, Scoles, Young, Rooney, Hernandez
Player to watch: Rio Ferdinand
Will he or won`t he get selected for the Euro 2012 squad? That remains to be seen, but Rio can be relied upon to give his normal assured performance in the Stadium of Light.
Match Facts & Stats
United have a fair old record when it comes to this fixture losing just the once (1997) in the twenty-one Premier League fixtures the club have played.
Sunderland enters this fixture having drawn five of their last seven games.
United enter this fixture having lost their last two away games – Wigan and Manchester City.
Howard Webb is the man chosen to take charge of this affair.
This is one United simply have to win and still hope that something occurs elsewhere that favours them. I have no doubt that United will win but I just can`t, for the life of me, see Queens Park Rangers get anything other than a good thrashing at the Etihad, therefore handing City the title on goal difference, life can be that cruel.
That`s all folks for 2011/2012