Manchester United will be firm favourites to beat Sunderland on the final day of the Barclays Premier League season but victory is unlikely to be enough for the Red Devils as they seek to snatch the title from Manchester Cityís grasp.
United are level on points with City going into the last round of fixtures however it is Roberto Manciniís men who hold a significant advantage in terms of goal difference.
And City will be fancied to get the job done regardless of Unitedís result as they face relegation strugglers QPR at home.
Alex Ferguson once suggested that the Premier League title could one day be decided by goal difference and that prediction looks almost certain to haunt him barring a complete upset at the Etihad Arena.
Manchester United must of course try and block out what is going on elsewhere and focus on satisfying their end of the bargain on the road against the Black Cats.
The reverse fixture saw United run out 1-0 winners in a tight affair at Old Trafford and another stern examination can be anticipated from Martin OíNeillís side.
Sunderland have enjoyed a reasonably decent second half of the campaign and their overall form since OíNeillís appointment has seen them ease clear of the drop zone and establish a solid spot in the middle of the table.
They have lost only four games at the Stadium of Light from eighteen outings and United will have to fire in order to inflict a fifth home defeat upon their physically tough opponents.
James McLean and Nicolas Bendtner head the sunderland dangers in attack which United will have to deal with and a strong defensive display will be required after some serious errors which have cost them dearly in recent weeks.
United bounced back to some extent from their derby loss to City by beating Swansea City at home and will at least go into this fixture knowing that the pressure is off Ė and instead back on Roberto Manciniís team.
Their odds of around 4/9 do much to suggest that they should get the job done however punters may be feeling cautious considering that they have lost on the road twice in the space of three weeks and Sunderland will be doing all they can to shock the defending champions again.
It may well be one to leave alone for favourite backers despite Unitedís obvious chances of success and on balance the 4/1 about the draw makes decent appeal.
Sunderland are no mugs at the back in front of their own supporters and have indeed conceded just sixteen goals all season long on Wearside.
Although United have been more than prolific in front of goal on their travels, netting at an average of two goals per game, this is not the most penetrating side Ferguson has ever turned out and the hosts may be able to keep them out providing they are at their best and United fail to come out of the blocks quickly.
© Frixo 2013