Manchester United vs. Sunderland: Key Questions for Devils Clash with Black Cats

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09:  Carlos Tevez of Manchester City competes with Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Manchester United look to continue their reign at the top of the EPL table with a win over a Sunderland squad just barely sitting outside of the bottom of the table. 

The Devils' season has gone about as well as one could hope. They have won 13 matches in league play while only dropping three and have a sizable lead over their arch rival Manchester City in second place.

With such a disparity in records between the two clubs, reality dictates that this match is most likely destined to be a United victory over Sunderland. Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't questions surrounding this matchup.

Every match is an opportunity for each team to improve and build upon the things that they have already accomplished, so there are still storylines to watch during the match. Here are the biggest questions we have heading into this matchup.

Can the United Attack Keep It Up?

There's a reason the Devils are the top Club in the league—they've made a concerted effort to be aggressive when it comes to attacking and it shows.

United leads the league in goals scored this season and it's not even close. The 40 goals generated by the likes of Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez lead second-place Manchester City by 10 goals.

After scoring three goals against City in the club's last match, United will look to keep things flowing offensively.

Sunderland's defense isn't anything special, but it has shown potential. It shut out Reading in its last match and has five shutouts on the season.

Reading is obviously not a quality club, but it's worth noting that they scored three goals against United when the two clubs met last.

How Will Nemanja Vidic Look in His Return?

Perhaps the biggest question of interest for United fans is what the return of Nemanja Vidic will mean for the club.

According to a report from ESPN, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Vidic will be making his long-awaited return to the lineup but hasn't yet determined if that means he will be in the starting XI.

Obviously, they have done just fine without his services, but Vidic's return should be a boost to the already strong United defense.

How many minutes he plays and in what capacity may not have a huge impact on the result of the game, but it's important for the future of the club.

Does Sunderland's Win over Reading Make It a Threat?

Looking at Sunderland in a vacuum, there's no reason it should be able to hang with United.

Their three wins in league play are the same amount of games that United has lost in league play all season and the two clubs are on opposite ends of the league table.

However, Sunderland is coming off of their best win of the season—a 3-0 shutout victory over Reading that showed they aren't really in the bottom-tier of the league.

As dominant as United has been all season, there have been times this season where they played down to their opponent. The Devils' own 4-3 victory over Reading is a perfect example. As long as they play reasonably well, though, they'll come away with a win.

Take Sunderland lightly and this match could be a little closer than anticipated.


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