No fear for United if they lose as history says they’ll be champions
Premier League fourth-favourites Manchester United (8/1) need to bounce back from their shock home defeat to Swansea City in the season opener. They can take confidence from the fact that they have not lost at Sunderland in their last 12 league games, so take odds of 4/5 for them to win, or 11/4 for a draw.
The duo faced each other four times last term, with both being victories in normal time twice each. Gus Poyet’s side therefore know how to beat the Red Devils, and are 7/2 chances to win again.
United have not lost their opening two league games since the 1992/93 campaign, though, but still ended the season as champions. Coincidentally, Louis van Gaal has only been defeated in his first two league matches once before but still finished first, with AZ Alkmaar in 2008/2009. So, it seems Red Devils fans shouldn’t be too disheartened if they leave the Stadium of Light with no points.
But the Premier League is far more competitive these days, and the Dutchman will know that a victory is desperately needed if his new side are to get back to confidence and end the season in the top four.
Van Gaal can look no further than his captain Wayne Rooney, then, who has scored four against Sunderland for United. The 28-year-old superstar also acrobatically got his team’s only goal in the defeat to Swansea, and he is 4/1 to net first here.
Rooney could be aided up front by Van Gaal’s former Netherlands skipper Robin van Persie, who returns from his extended holiday, following his World Cup campaign. He is a good shout at 4/1 to net last, as it is likely he will start from the bench.
But all eyes will be on new Man Utd acquisition Marcos Rojo, who finally completed his switch to Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon, with Nani going the other way, but unfortunately from the stands. The Red Devils’ defence is threadbare, especially with the likes of Jonny Evans, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Rafael all out or doubts, though Rojo will have wait for his debut due to his work permit not being sorted in time.
But Argentine international Rojo, 24, said on his arrival: “I’m very pleased to be here at the biggest club in the world. It’s a very great honour and I’m very pleased to bring the best I can to this club.
“It was a little bit hard and a long process. It was complicated but the most important thing is that I’m here now and I’m happy; I’m ready.
“For me it’s certainly the most important football league in the world and I’ve always watched it. One important aspect is there are a lot of young players that come here with a view to improving their game. I hope I can be among them.”
Rojo will be watching his new teammates from the sidelines with the likes of Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard, who are all injured.
For Sunderland, Sebastian Larsson scored against United last term, the winner in the league at Old Trafford, and the Swede is 6/1 to score anytime. Emanuele Giaccherini, meanwhile is still out.