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Nic Ladds 2nd Oct 2009 - 16:46

United may leave it late to see off Sunderland

You have to go right back to 1968 for the last time Sunderland beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and odds of 16/1 say they can do it this weekend.

Steve Bruce must dread meetings with his old manager Sir Alex Ferguson as he has lost 10 of the last 12 meetings with all clubs against Fergie and drawn the other two while Sunderland have not beaten Man Utd in 14 league encounters, explaining why United are at odds of 1/5 to record a victory.

It is also worth noting that The Black Cats have won just one of their last 13 away Premier League games and not kept a clean sheet since the opening day of the season against Bolton which could have punters queuing up to get on markets like over 2 match goals at 8/15 and Man Utd to score in both halves at 4/9.

However, this may not be as cut and dry as some think with the last two meetings between these two at Old Trafford being decided by just one goal which makes scores like 1-0 and 2-1 to the home side look in the right area at 6/1 and 8/1 respectively, while a 2-1 win to Sunderland is a whopping 33/1.

It has become noticeable that United have become more and more reliant on the ageing legs of Ryan Giggs (9/1 to score first) to produce some magic and while the Welshman is in top form, United need the likes of Nani and Antonio Valencia to start firing as you can't expect a 36 year old to play 40 games a season.

Against a Sunderland defence though that can best be described as comical at times, United may have a field day no matter what midfield and strike force they put out and perhaps a draw at 5/1 is the best Bruce's side can hope for.

Wayne Rooney is in rude health and will be at the top of many lists for first goal scorer at 11/4 while Dimitar Berbatov is 7/2 and with Michael Owen ruled out Federico Macheda may get a run out and could be a pick for last goal scorer at 5/1.

Sunderland to have an antidote to their shaky defence though which has so far been an awesome attack and man of the moment Darren Bent has scored eight in his last nine Premier League games and is a colossal 10/1 to score first with his able strike partner Kenwyne Jones 12/1 and the away side's goals will most likely come from one of these two.

At the price Bent could well be worth a small investment to bag the first goal of the game but it is hard to envisage Sunerland winning due to their poor away record and United rarely lose at Old Trafford but at a big price Sunderland half time/Man Utd full time at 25/1 could be worth a bet as The Red Devils have only led twice at half time this season in 11 games in all competitions.

If United start this game like they did against Wolfsburg in the Champions League then they may find themselves in trouble early on but while Steve Bruce will no doubt have had his side working overtime on their defending, it is very hard to see them keeping United out for 90 minutes.

Chance the on-form Bent to open the scoring while a score line of 2-1 to United at 8/1 or the Sunderland/Man Utd double result look the way to go, but if Ferguson's side become to reliant on Giggs, they may find their grip on the Premier League trophy, slowly but surely loosening.

Darren Bent to score first - 10/1

Man Utd to win 2-1 - 8/1


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