VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Sunderland Vs Manchester United (0-1), EPL 2013
What has Ferguson got in mind today? Will either Wayne Rooney, left, or Robin van Persie start? (Reuters file)
NB: Video on this article has been removed in accordance to international license restrictions.
By Greg Robertson
Hello football fans and welcome to the Stadium of Light where we have Manchester United on the road to take on Sunderland at the business end of the 2012/2013 Premier League season.
Manchester United has the FA Cup to consider, so we’ll see just what sort of side they throw out today against Sunderland, with United holding that 15 point lead on the EPL table and all.
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LIVE COMMENTARY: Sunderland 0 – 1 Manchester United
FULLTIME - Van Persie with a chance late, but it's all over. ALL VIDEO UP, United win 1-0.
90+5 MINS - Aerial long ball ping pong... Welbeck into the box and lays it off... even the players don't know whether to play on or not, they've had enough and want the spa bath and facial.
90+2 - Six minutes? What are they on? Like Chinese water torture this is... oh well, we'll let this one drift out four more minutes it's been a very sedate match.
89 MINS - Sunderland with a last gasp desperate raid, Sessegnon with a great volley back into the box and fell to McLean who couldn't find his feet to shoot. SIX MINUTES OF ADDED TIME
85 MINS - Anderson coming off and Cleverly runs onto the pitch. United again under no real pressure. Sir Alex Ferguson is sitting a lot more comfortably this year than he was when sitting here at this time last year, that's for sure... Colback on for Rose for Sunderland.
81 MINS - Buttner with a great run and then he cuts in on his 'weaker' foot and smacks it, forcing a great save from Mignolet in the Sunderland sticks.
78 MINS - There's plenty of endeavor from Sunderland now but it's just not clicking once they hit the top third of the pitch.
76 MINS - Late challenge from Bardsley on Buttner... oh that's nasty. Johnson off and Connor Wickham is on, 20 years old tomorrow.
73 MINS - Johnson with another shot, this one about two feet wide but worth an effort.
71 MINS - Hardly been a shot this half... Johnson bends one in and Gardner's in there but Smalling with the desperate header away. That was a good ball in.
68 MINS - United now are killing the tempo of the game to take the wind from Sunderland... pass, pass, turn, pass, pass, pass, foot on it, pass, Vidic, Buttner, pass, pass.. you get the idea.
66 MINS - The tide has turned and it's all Sunderland. There's urgency, and United are scrambling at the back. But even the adventure is a little disjointed and they give it away and the bubble bursts.
62 MINS - Adam Johnsion with a long run down the right and tries to find Sessegnon, but can't, the ball falling to Bardlsey who forgot his shooting boots today. Here's a bit of spirit. A good little period as Sunderland also win a corner, and De Gea smacks into Vidic (his own player) and of course that means a free kick to the defending side (or at least a whistle to stop play). Bah... too much protection for keepers when Sunderland had wind in their sail.... though de Gea does looks hurt.
58 MINS - Robin van Persie in the book for raising his foot and it's near Garden's head... he tried to pull out and there was a whiff of contact only.
56 MINS - Some lovely, crisp passes from United ends with a Buttner cross that O'Shea heads away. It's that final ball that is keeping United from finding the net more often.
53 MINS - A half sweeping play from Sunderland which breaks down on the final pass and is trumped by a three-quarter sweeping United play that breaks down with a poor cross. This is a little like a training session for United... the intensity is absent from this encounter.
50 MINS - O'Shea now gets booked. He gave the ball away to van Persie then dove in to win it back and fouls. Right on the corner of the box. Danger signs... maybe near post for a flick? No, he fires it into the face of Rose who shows plenty of courage to man up and keep his moosh there.
48 MINS - O'Shea not happy as van Persie goes over easily... but it's a United free kick just inside the Sunderland half. They loose it though and it's N'Diaye that runs at Vidic, looks lost and squeezes off an unconvincing shot.
46 MINS - United kicks off... will they get it as easy as they had it in that first 45? No changes at the break for either side.
HALFTIME - UNITED leads 1-0.
45 MINS - Valencia wins the corner and there's one minute of stoppage time... RVP bends it in, VP then gets a volley two plays later with an inventive strike. That's halftime.<.p>
43 MINS - Van Persie has a crack from a harsh angled free kick after Gardner nipped at his ankles to hear the whistle. The shot flew and dipped from the Dutchman, but Mignolet was always in control with the punch.
39 MINS - Nice from van Persie as Young puts it to his feet and he spins and hits one first time, forces the Sunderland keeper to react quickly.Z
37 MINS - Drifting to half time this one...
35 MINS - United just cutting the Sunderland defence to piece with one-touch passing, and Anderson bursts through... Mignolet thankful that Bramble managed to get amongst it.
33 MINS - N'Diaye gives away a free kick... Evans is on but not for Vidic, for Rafael... no idea what that's about but he's gone off holding a groin. While that that goes on Young shoots but Mignolet grabs it easy.
31 MINS - Vidic looking like he'll make way soon. His back is still giving him grief. United now playing 'keepsies'.
27 MINS - GOAL Robin van Persie and Manchester United! No pressure on van Persie and he wanders 10 yards into the box and finishes from an acute angle. United leads 1-0, it took a deflection too... a bit of Bramble and Bardsley in that. Neither will want the oggie and will hope it goes to RVP instead. They are talking it will be a Bramble own goal.
24 MINS - Err there's not a lot to report... in terms of football anyway. Suddenly some quick Sessegnon feet try to spark something but it's an all-too-brief interlude into a competitive football match worth watching.
22 MINS - A first 20 mins completely bereft of highlights. Sunderland are backing off a touch and letting United run it at them, Kagawa and van Persie with a touch back and forth as van Persie gets some ball time with it at his feet and in the penalty area... a desperate toe nicks it away from him.
18 MINS - Bramble heads behind as he's aware of the van Persie factor behind him, Young's corner finds a Vidic header which is cleared in front of the far post. Young free on the left, bends on in and Mignolet swats it behind for a corner. Comes to nothing but United still attacking strongly.
15 MINS - Good period of six passes for Sunderland ends with a Gardner strike but he hasn't got all of it and it hits legs after five yards anyway.
12 MINS - This is starting to get fairly one-sided as United push the ball at a walk from one penalty box to the other. Mignolet comes and closes down Buttner who just runs straight past everyone and at goal.
10 MINS - Anderson with a delicious ball to Young, angled and right to the corner. Young starting to cause some problems down the left edge as he hugs the touch and pulls the Sunderland defence wide. RVP getting room and Kagawa looks to be in a likely mood to create some havoc.
7 MINS - McLean wins a corner for Sunderland. Ball goes far post, bounces around a bit then falls to Gardner who has his shot blocked. United breaks fast and win a free kick near the penalty area for handball, a harsh one as Bardsley was to do nothing else. Young swings it in but it's gone behind, poor ball with too much height and pace.
5 MINS - De Gea gets lucky as he kicks it straight to Graham but Sessegnon is offside after Graham's touch to him. Flag - eventually - goes up, but that was lucky for United. Vidic is still ginger.
3 MINS - Valencia lays off to Young at pace, Young cuts in toward the corner of the box and then dinks a wee through ball for Buttner to chase. Only problem was that Buttner was on a completely different wave length and holding space.
1 MINS - We're underway and both teams have an early touch but rush the play. Both teams now have brought their keeper into play with pushes to the back... Vidic has a back strain, no contact made at all. We'll keep an eye on him as it looks painful.
Teams in the tunnel... and now pitch-bound. United in blue and black hoops, while Sunderland have the rock candy look. No Rooney (et al) today, but RVP makes a half decent alternative.
Sunderland are starting to get desperate at the foot of the table while United are in cruise control... a good day for an upset? Unlikely as it sounds, a taste of one would really stir this match on today. Sunderland are just four points above the bottom three and have a harsh run home.
Here are your teams... Nice bright, sunny day but it's bitterly cold at the Light.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose, Johnson, Gardner, N'Diaye, McClean, Sessegnon, Graham. Subs: Westwood, Larsson, Wickham, Kilgallon, Colback, Mangane, Mandron.
Manchester Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Evans, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Powell.
Half an hour to the off and we're expecting the confirmed teams through shortly.
Kick-off isn’t far away but in the meantime you can watch highlights of Manchester United’s last game before the international break against Reading.
Sunderland (Possible, 4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Gardner, Bramble, O’Shea, Rose; Johnson, N’Diaye, Larsson, McClean; Sessegnon; Graham.
Manchester United (Possible, 4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Vidic, Buttner; Scholes, Carrick; Nani, Anderson, Young; Rooney
The anguish at losing the English Premier League trophy after last year's final match at Sunderland has been a motivating force at Manchester United all season.
Just how much will become clear when Man United visits Sunderland today holding a 15-point lead over second-place Manchester City in the title race.
When United's last match ended at Sunderland in May, the players were already preparing to celebrate a 20th title. But City scored two late goals against Queens Park Rangers to claim the trophy on goal difference.
"It was one of those situations, going into the Sunderland game, where we didn't think we had a chance," United defender Chris Smalling said. "But to get so close in the end to winning the title, makes it even worse."
The players were told by manager Alex Ferguson to never forget the heartache at the Stadium of Light.
"The way we lost the title at Sunderland has been a motivating force all of this season," Smalling said. "Even when we've been a goal behind, there have been a lot of comebacks to get things from games.
"I think people have been looking back at last season and you don't want to experience that feeling again."
The comfortable cushion over City means United can afford to have one eye on the FA Cup quarterfinal replay at Chelsea less than 48 hours after the Sunderland game.
"I have to make sure I have some freshness in the team because we also have Chelsea on Monday lunchtime (UKT)," Ferguson said. "It is a big ask for our squad and something we need to concentrate on because I need to make sure I pick the right teams."