Sunderland could welcome back defensive duo Billy Jones and Santiago Vergini for their Premier League clash with Manchester United at the Stadium of Light. Both returned to training this week following layoffs. Emanuele Giaccherini remains a long-term absentee however with the Italian midfielder out for another three weeks with a groin injury. Manchester United pair Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia are fit again but new signing Maros Rojo is unavailable for selection as the defender has not received his work permit in time. Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard all remain out.
Manchester United are unbeaten in 12 league games at Sunderland (W9, D3) since a 2-1 defeat in March 1997. Sunderland have hosted Manchester United 13 times in the Premier League but they have only kept a clean sheet once. Sunderland's only defeat in their previous seven league matches came against Swansea at the Stadium of Light on the final day of last season. Gus Poyet's side have scored in each of those last seven league fixtures. Manchester United have not lost their opening two league matches since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992-93, when they were beaten by Sheffield United and Everton. (BBC)
Sunderland Mannone, Vergini, van Aanholt, Brown, O'Shea (c), Cattermole, Larsson, Rodwell, Buckley, Wickham, Fletcher. Man Utd De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Blackett; Valencia, Cleverley, Fletcher, Mata, Young; Rooney, van Persie
Manchester United will be aiming to avoid an historic defeat when they travel to Sunderland for this afternoon's Premier League clash. United lost their opening game of the season to Swansea City last weekend and not since 1992 have they lost two topflight matches on the spin. Yet manager Louis van Gaal has a succession of injuries and will know the Black Cats will prove another stern test here. Van Gaal is still searching for his first Premier League win as United manager after taking over from the sacked David Moyes earlier this summer and, while he oversaw an undefeated pre-season campaign, his short reign in charge has raised more questions than answers so far. Another underwhelming transfer window has done little to allay those concerns and only a win to extend a 12-match undefeated streak at the Stadium of Light will appease supporters. But Sunderland will be no pushovers. Manager Gus Poyet's first three games as a manager against United ended with him celebrating every time, with the north east side earning a stunning 1-0 victory over the Manchester club last May - a result which ultimately staved off relegation into the Championship. The Red Devils will be up for this one however following their chastening defeat at home to Swansea last weekend and the players will know van Gaal will expect a response from them. It's hard to envisage a second-straight league loss here and I'm going to go for a win for the away side - albeit a narrow one. Prediction: 1-2
Joseph is an accredited football journalist and has interviewed nearly all of the current 20 Barclay's Premier League managers. He is also a correspondent for Bleacher Report and has written for Caught Offside and Give Me Football.