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Red Devils battle Black Cats as Saints face Baggies in top four fight

| 27.02.2015

The battle to secure a top four finish in this season’s Premier League continues as Manchester United host Gus Poyet’s struggling Sunderland, while Southampton seek three points in their clash with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils, odds-on 5/6 with Coral to claim a top four position, currently occupy the final Champions League place, but are only ahead of Ronald Koeman’s fifth-placed Saints by a single point.

Man Utd v Sunderland
United will welcome the Black Cats to Old Trafford hoping to finally pick up a win over their defiant Wearside rivals, having drawn earlier this season and failed to secure a league victory against them since October 2013.

Van Gaal’s European hopefuls were twice thwarted by Sunderland last season, including a Capital One Cup loss at the Stadium of Light, but hold a dominant overall Premier League record, having won six of the previous eight meetings.

Despite a supreme run of results at home this term, the Red Devils come into this latest clash on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Garry Monk’s Swansea City, while the visitors are without a league win in three outings.

Poyet’s relegation-threatened outfit have dropped to 16th in the table, just three points clear of danger, after securing victory only once in the last nine fixtures. Triumphs on their travels are rare too, with Sunderland gaining only one win seven games on the road this term.

United were held to a frustrating 1-1 stalemate in the reverse meeting, with Spanish playmaker Juan Mata netting the opener and Jack Rodwell levelling moments before half-time. Menacing Mata has struck six times this current campaign, and is 8/1 to open proceedings again this time out.

Prolific poacher Jermain Defoe has fired in two Premier League goals for the battling Black Cats since his return to England’s top-flight, and the former England international is 11/4 to score anytime, having scored five times before against United for Tottenham and West ham United.

The last two games in which Defoe has struck against the Red Devils have both ended in 3-1 defeats for the former Spurs striker. Van Gaal’s side are available at 12/1 to win by the same scoreline in their latest league fixture.

West Brom v Southampton
Koeman’s travelling Saints, 5/4 favourites, will be aiming to keep the pressure on their top four rivals with a victory over West Brom at The Hawthorns.

The Baggies have not toppled Southampton since the 2012/13 season, when they completed a delightful domestic double, securing 2-0 and 3-0 wins. Tony Pulis has worked wonders with the West Midlands outfit, and his side are 17/4 to cause a shock by winning to nil.

Pulis’ men currently sit in 14th spot and look increasingly likely to secure their top-flight status for another campaign, having climbed five points clear of danger and teams below them continuing to struggle.

Southampton were held to a goalless draw at St Mary’s in the reverse clash, but last season they overcame West Brom in two narrow 1-0 triumphs. The hosts are 11/2 to secure a result by the same winning margin in the latest meeting.

Koeman’s team have endured a tough spell in recent weeks, winning just one of their previous five games in all competitions. However, topscorer Graziano Pelle is always a threat and is available at 6/4 to net anytime for the determined Saints.



Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.