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Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United

Hello, and welcome to our liveblog of the first Premier League game in quite some time.

As you’ll see from the teams below, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Ryan Giggs are all absent from the United starting team today. And of those four, only Welbeck makes the bench.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bramble, O’Shea, Rose, Johnson, Gardner, N’Diaye, McClean, Sessegnon, Graham. Subs: Westwood, Larsson, Wickham, Kilgallon, Colback, Mangane, Mandron.

Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Evans, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Powell.

United, of course, have bad recent memories from the Stadium of Light.

They beat Sunderland on the final day of last season, but had to make do with second place in the Premier League after City’s last-gasp goals against QPR.


YouTube credit: TheBossGaming100

We’re underway…

Nemanja Vidic has already has already pulled and held his back awkwardly.

He’s happy to play on for the moment, after initially appearing to be in difficulty.

Meanwhile, David De Gea has just scuffed a kick.

Fortunately for him, Danny Graham subsequently passes it to Sessegnon, who is well offside.

United have looked a little sloppy so far, as they attempt to regain their rhythm following the international break.

Ashley Young’s overhit free-kick was one illustration of their less than assured start to the game.

That said, they’ve had 75% possession in the opening minutes.

Alexander Buttner wriggles past some weak Sunderland challenges and finds himself through on goal, forcing Mignolet into a good save.

The 24-year-old full-back certainly isn’t afraid to get forward.

Mignolet punches a Young cross out for a corner when perhaps, he could’ve caught it.

In the goalkeeper’s defence though, the sun was obstructing his view.

Van Persie finds a bit of space in the box, but he’s belatedly closed down well by Bramble.

No sign of the Dutchman ending his United goalscoring drought as of yet.

GOAL FOR UNITED!

Sunderland 0-1 Man United: Van Persie finds some space on the edge of the box and he takes a snapshot, which deflects off Bramble and finds the back of the net (26 mins).

That’s his 20th goal of the season, provided the dubious goals panel don’t take it off him owing to the deflection.

Sunderland have altered their shape slightly.

Intriguingly, James McClean is now playing a more central role, while Sessegnon is on the wing.

In addition, Rafael has picked up a knock for United and has consequently been replaced by Jonny Evans.

A chance to put a free kick into the box fails to beat the first defender, much to the annoyance of the Sunderland crowd.

The hosts have at least enjoyed some sustained possession since the goal.

Mignolet needs to parry Van Persie’s free-kick over the bar.

Less than five minutes now until half time, with United firmly in control of this game.

Sunderland launch at threatening break, as McClean marauds forward menacingly.

However, Carrick emphasises his defensive qualities by using his strength to muscle the Irish player off the ball.

HALF-TIME: SUNDERLAND 0-1 MAN UNITED

So the game’s gone pretty much as expected so far.

United have looked quite comfortable for the most part, and their 1-0 lead is well deserved.

Kagawa has caused the hosts constant problems, playing in the role in front of the midfield but behind the striker, while Carrick has done a great job alleviating any hint of an attacking threat.

Based on the first half, it’s difficult seeing the outcome being anything other than a United win. In order to prevent it from happening, Sunderland need to attack their opponents with more conviction in the second period and exploit the fact that Ferguson has fielded a weakened team.

The second half has begun…

Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie (second right) has his shot deflected into the goal by Sunderland’s Titus Bramble (centre) for Manchester United’s opening goal (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images).

Not much of note happening so far in the second half.

It’s been as scrappy as it often was in the first 45, with neither side carving out a clear-cut opening yet.

Phil Bardsley blasts wastefully over from just outside the box.

At the moment, it feels like Sunderland could play all day and still not score.

The game has just resumed after De Gea had to receive treatment for a substantial period, due to Vidic clattering into him accidentally as he came for a cross.

The crowd are fired up now, owing to the recent pressure applied by Sunderland on the United goal.

Sessegnon hasn’t enjoyed the best of times in recent minutes.

He’s just wasted not one, but two promising Sunderland attacks.

He gave the ball away on the first occasion and dribbled it out of play the second time.

While not creating any big chances, Sunderland have at least dominated in terms of territory, as 40% of the play has been in United’s final third in recent minutes.

Meanwhile, Phil Bardsley is lucky to escape with a booking after an awful two-footed tackle on Buttner.

In addition, there’s more substitutions, with Larsson replacing Bardsley and Welbeck coming on for Kagawa.

An unmarked Vidic fails to connect properly with a corner and glances it wide, much to the home side’s relief.

Less than ten minutes remain…

While Sunderland have improved somewhat in the second half, it’s difficult to recall even one shot on target for the home side.

On this evidence, it’s easy to see why they’re relegation candidates.

Wickham produces a snap shop from just outside the box, but De Gea saves it comfortably.

There’s six minutes of added time, largely as a result of that De Gea injury earlier.

FULL-TIME:  SUNDERLAND 0-1 MAN UNITED

Van Persie misses a golden chance to add to his tally with the last kick of the game.

So possibly less comfortable than it should have been for United in the end, but they managed to secure another win and a record 25th of the season at that.

Given the absence of several high-profile players, Ferguson should be relatively satisfied with how the game panned out.

Sunderland worked hard and didn’t disgrace themselves, but a familiar failing – their lack of a genuine goalscoring threat – has hurt them once again.

In addition, Michael Carrick was deservedly named Man of the Match for his stellar defensive work.

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting – and keep an eye on the site for more Premier League updates throughout the day.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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