United are a top priced 1.25 to make the annual return to Manchester another unhappy experience for former captain Steve Bruce, and if the form book is anything to go by then they should comfortably beat the Black Cats.

Since suffering a heavy defeat in a certain match which we no longer talk about, the Reds have answered the calls of the gaffer and quickly got back into winning ways.

They have won their last three in all competitions, and although they have not been as impressive as many would have liked what is important is that they have conceded no goals in those victories and the ship has been steadied.

So far as this game is concerned the stats are good and it’s no wonder that the bookies are running scared.

Since losing to Sunderland in 1997, United have won 13 and lost none of the subsequent 18 Premier League matches against the Black Cats.

The visitors have also failed to score in seven of their last nine Premier League games against the Reds, and I don’t need to tell you how good United’s record is at home.

It really should be a case of another three points in the bag for Sir Alex’s young guns but punting them at 1.25 doesn’t make much appeal.

However the 1.73 about them in the HT/FT market with bet365 does look attractive for those who like to play odds-on as they will surely bombard Sunderland right from the off and if they do not get an early goal the gaps will open for them to exploit as the visitors try to push forward for an equaliser.

So who is going to get the opener?

Predictably Wayne Rooney tops the lists at a top priced 4.33 with bet365, but it’s the same firm’s standout 5 about Chicharito that makes more appeal.

He is beginning to look sharper with every game and is as short as 3.5 to score first with some firms. That makes the 5 on offer with bet365 just too big to resist from a punting perspective.

As I have already mentioned, Sunderland’s record of scoring against United is very poor and that throws up another interesting betting opportunity.

You can get even money (2) with bet365 and Paddy Power about United winning and keeping a clean sheet, and that certainly appeals as a bit of value compared to their outright odds to win.

Like everyone I am just hoping that United win this and the score doesn’t really matter in that the three points is all that counts.

However for those who do like to dabble in the correct score market I would suggest split stakes on 2-0 and 3-0.

The former can be backed at 6.5 with bet365, Betfred and Paddy Power whilst the latter is an 8 shot with Boylesports and Paddy Power.