English Premiership

Van Gaal and Advocaat face-off

2015-09-25 11:37
Louis van Gaal (AFP)

Manchester - The contrast in form between Manchester United and Sunderland could hardly be greater as the two clubs prepare to meet at Old Trafford on Saturday.

United have won their last two Premier League games - scoring six goals in the process - and with just one league defeat this season have climbed up to second place in the table, two points behind local rivals Manchester City.

Louis van Gaal's side also goes into the game on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win over Ipswich Town in the League Cup to move smoothly into the last 16.

In the same competition, Sunderland were beaten 4-1 at home to Manchester City on Tuesday night and the North East club - whose only win at Old Trafford since 1968 helped them secure a remarkable escape from relegation at the end of the 2013/14 season - are bottom of the Premier League.

Head coach Dick Advocaat is under increasing pressure with Sunderland yet to win a league game this season, although he is unlikely to receive any sympathy on the pitch from fellow Dutchman van Gaal.

Advocaat is no stranger to van Gaal and the two have met nine times as manager of opposing sides, with five draws, three wins for Advocaat and just one win for the United boss.

United have made massive strides in the space of 12 months following a difficult start to life at Old Trafford for the former Netherlands coach.

The impact of striker Anthony Martial - a £36m signing from Monaco in August who has scored four goals on his first four appearances - has epitomised United's progress, although van Gaal insists no-one should get carried away.

"It is not so difficult because he is a player who is very modest," said van Gaal of the 19-year-old Frenchman.

"He knows that he can score and he can score because of his fellow players.

"With his speed and composure, he can score. We are happy but still we have to keep our feet on the ground."

After starting on the bench against Ipswich, Martial is likely to return to the side to face Sunderland, along with right-back Matteo Darmian and midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.

Winger Memphis Depay may also return but defenders Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Paddy McNair are missing through injury.

Advocaat will make several changes to the side which was out-classed by City as Sunderland try and climb off the bottom of the table.

Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon will return in place of Vito Mannone, while Younes Kaboul is available after suspension and is likely to replace Sebastian Coates in central defence.

Midfielder Lee Cattermole is pushing for a first start in four games, while defender Billy Jones returns at right-back after being rested in midweek. While left-back Patrick van Aanholt's place is under threat after the Dutchman's unconvincing start to the season.

Advocaat is also considering whether to switch England midfielder Jack Rodwell to centre back in a bid to strengthen a back line that has conceded 20 goals in eight games this season.

Advocaat said: "I have one or two options. I have thought about moving Rodwell into defence, because he is good in the air and has got two good feet. He is what I am looking for in terms of being able to find his team-mates with a pass."


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