We look ahead to this weekend's game.
Martin O’Neill is looking to complete a unique hat-trick as he prepares to face Manchester United this weekend.
The Sunderland boss is the only manager in history to win at Old Trafford with two different teams (Manchester United and Leicester).
But he’ll face a stiff challenge to make it three against a United side who have surged into a solid lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
The Red Devils’ dramatic victory over rivals Manchester City in their last outing opened up a six-point gap at the top of the division.
They have dropped only nine points all season, winning 13 games and losing on three occasions to pile up a tally of 39 points.
United have lost just one league game on home turf this season (2-3 v Spurs), winning the other six including the last four in a row.
Sir Alex’s attacking options on Saturday will include the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, and the veteran boss has seen his side hit the net 19 times at home in the league this season, conceding nine goals at the other end.
Sunderland were boosted by a 3-0 win over Reading last time out and went down narrowly at Old Trafford last season, losing 1-0 thanks to an own goal from former Red Wes Brown, who will miss the game through injury.
The Black Cats haven’t scored against United in five games since an entertaining 2-2 draw in October 2009.
Brown is accompanied on the injury list by captain Lee Cattermole, while Adam Johnson, Danny Rose and Phil Bardsley will all be assessed after picking up injuries during the Reading game.
United, meanwhile, could welcome back captain Nemanja Vidic, who hasn’t played since September.
The Serbian could step in to the spot occupied by former Sunderland loanee Jonny Evans, who is rated as doubtful.
Meanwhile former United man John O’Shea looks set to return to Old Trafford for the first time having missed last season’s trip through injury.
Saturday’s game will be the 134th meeting between the two sides, with United holding a record of 58 victories, ahead of Sunderland’s 39. A further 36 games have been drawn.