English Premiership

Rooney, Martial set sights on fragile Sunderland

Wayne Rooney (Getty Images)
Wayne Rooney (Getty Images)

Sunderland - Manchester United will face the worst defence in the Premier League on Saturday, which should have their strike-force of Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial licking their lips in anticipation.

Sunderland have conceded 49 goals so far this season - the main reason why Sam Allardyce's side find themselves in relegation trouble inside the bottom three.

Their record at the Stadium of Light is not as troubling, with only 13 goals conceded on home turf to date.

But the Black Cats are evidently vulnerable and Rooney and Martial will be looking to add to their goal tallies as United bid to keep their prospects of Champions League qualification alive.

They go into the weekend six points off the top four under Louis van Gaal, whose position remains under intense scrutiny following reports of an approach for Jose Mourinho to replace the Dutchman as manager at Old Trafford.

Rooney, who scored one of the goals in United's comfortable 3-0 home win over Sunderland in September, has netted seven times in his last eight games.

And while Martial has scored just once in seven games, the France international looks to be heading back towards top form and needs just one goal to reach double figures in his first season in England.

"The amount of ability he's got is huge. The potential is certainly there," said Michael Carrick of 20-year-old Martial.

"It's easy to forget the age he is and how little football he's actually played as well. To have such an impact at this stage, with the expectations based on him and the way he's dealt with it, has been superb.

"His performances have been very good. I think we have to understand that sometimes he might not be that shining light and have days when it's not quite happening for him, and that's understandable.

"But over time he'll improve and I've seen a big improvement already in this short time. Hopefully that trend will continue and he'll get better and better."