Sunderland daring to dream at the 'Theatre of Dreams'. Source: Ian Macnicol/AAP
The Red Devils will start this home game 2-1 down on aggregate after losing the first leg at the Stadium of Light a fortnight ago. To make matters worse, they will be without captain Nemanja Vidic after his appeal against his send-off at Chelsea was rejected.
So far, 2014 hasn’t kind to the EPL champions, going down in two of their three premiership fixtures. They were also bundled out of the FA Cup 2-1 by Swansea City. New Boss David Moyes is under pressure with his side currently 7th on the EPL table and there are reports he’s close to luring Chelsea’s out-of-favour Spanish international Juan Mata to Old Trafford. Moyes has also had to contend with a short three day turnaround after a disappointing 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge, where Vidic was red-carded for a tackle on Eden Hazard. On a positive note, veteran Wayne Rooney is set to return after three weeks off nursing a groin injury.
Unbeaten in their past four starts in all competitions, the Black Cats are showing fight as they claw desperately to avoid relegation and salvage something from an average season. Gus Poyet’s men recently hammered Fulham 4-1 in the League and Carlisle United 3-1 in the FA Cup.
Interestingly, nine of Sunderland’s last 11 goals have either been scored or assisted by Adam Johnson who is back to the form which saw him earn 11 England caps. One of three teams stuck on 18 points at the foot of the EPL ladder, the Coal Cats have signed Argentine international Santiago Vergini.
Already through to the League Cup final is Manchester City after a 3-0 victory over West Ham took the two-leg aggregate to 9-0. After this semi, Man U has the weekend off, while Sunderland backs-up in the fourth round of the FA Cup against non-league side Kidderminster at the Stadium of Light.
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