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Out of sorts Sunderland have a wretched record against United

Sunderland hopes of arresting what is becoming an alarming post New Year slump will not be overly fired by the visit of Manchester United to the Stadium of Light on Saturday. The champions elect have lost just once in their last 23 face-offs with the Mackems, winning 17 of those meetings.

The Red Devils haven’t lost for 17 league games, winning 15 times in that sequence and they can be backed to prevail at 4/6 with Coral – the hosts are rated 4/1 chances by the firm.

Just two wins in 12 games since the turn of the year have seen the Black Cats slide down the table, with a berth south of the dreaded dotted-line beckoning should their poorly form not abate shortly. They can be backed at 3/1 for the drop with Coral with Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton and Spurs all still to come.

Frazier Campbell’s 72nd minute consolation goal in the sides’ Old Trafford dance this term snapped a run of five consecutive blanks for Sunderland against United, but the Red Devils have become more miserly with strugglers as the zero in on the title dispatching Wigan, QPR and Fulham to nil in front of their respective fans. A United clean sheet can be backed at 13/10, whilst their win to nil is 15/8.

Sunderland’s tendency to fall prey to the first goal has seriously undermined their point garnering ambitions, with Martin O’Neill’s candystriped charges shipping the first goal in six of the last eight games in which they’ve conceded. During the last 10 games they’ve conceded nine times before the 36 minute mark and managed to regain the lead on just one occasion.

Man United are 6/5 to be in the lead come the half time oranges and their Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney – goalscorers both in the recent internationals – are 4/1 and 9/2 respectively to notch the first goal at on Wearside.

The Red Devils are also the league’s joint best at holding onto winning positions once they’re gained, dropping four points having taken the lead all season and they can be backed to win both halves at 4/1 with Coral.