Manchester United-Sunderland Preview
- Pulis leaves as Stoke manager
- Mourinho to leave Real Madrid
- Yankees and Man City to co-own MLS club
- Brighton issue formal apology to Palace
- Man Utd earn EPL-record from TV deal
- Arsenal qualify for Champions League
- Ferguson career ends with 5-5 draw
- Spurs miss out on Champions League spot
- Chelsea beat Everton 2-1 to finish 3rd
- Carragher bids farewell with a victory
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - There's going to be a colossal party in Manchester on Sunday.
Manchester United will likely need a result and a stunning upset if the confetti and favours are going to be red instead of blue.
In the culmination of one of the closest Premier League title races in history, the Red Devils will try to do their part against struggling Sunderland while putting their hopes in an unlikely result to become repeat champions.
Manchester United (27-5-5) are tied with those noisy neighbours Manchester City atop the Premier League table with 86 points heading into the final match day of the season.
United held the upper hand less than two weeks ago, but were beaten 1-0 by City on April 30 in a result that manager Sir Alex Ferguson called a "grievous blow."
Now, it seems the outcome of the title race may come down to goal differential.
United are a plus-55 on goal differential, while City own a plus-63 heading into a home match with Queens Park Rangers, who are two points ahead of Bolton in the race to avoid relegation.
That means United have a chance to be crowned Premier League champions if they can win by overturning that deficit while matching City's victory margin.
With that being an unlikely scenario, a clearer path to the title leaves the Red Devils beating Sunderland (11-12-14) while City fail to beat QPR.
United kept pace at the top of the standings by beating Swansea 2-0 last weekend on goals from Paul Scholes and Ashley Young.
"We did what we had to do, we won the game," Ferguson said. "It gives us hope. QPR need a point (to avoid relegation) ... you never know."
Ferguson's side are unbeaten in the last 17 meetings (13-4-0) with the Black Cats, going 6-2-0 at the Stadium of Light while holding a 15-4 scoring edge.
United had four clean sheets during a 3-1-0 run against them, including a 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Nov. 5.
Wayne Rooney is United leading goal-scorer with 33 goals in all competitions, and he may need a haul to give them a chance at the silverware. However, the forward hasn't scored in six matches versus Sunderland.
The Black Cats will try to play the role of spoiler as they enter the final match day on a 0-5-2 stretch that continued with last week's 2-1 loss at Fulham.
They're also 0-3-1 in their last four overall home matches, managing just two goals while being blanked three times.
Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is likely to be at the centre of the action in Sunday's match. He's managed three clean sheets in the past five matches, and had seven saves last time out against Fulham.
Manager Martin O'Neill is impressed with Mignolet's second season at Sunderland.
"He's developing into a very, very decent goalkeeper and I'm very pleased for him," O'Neill told the team's official website.
Mignolet, a Belgium international, has faced the Red Devils once before, making three stops to secure a scoreless draw at Sunderland on Oct. 2, 2010.
United will be without England internationals Danny Welbeck and Chris Smalling on Sunday. Striker Welbeck is still out with a ankle problem, while defender Smalling suffered a groin injury against Swansea and has been ruled of the Euro 2012 finals.
Updated May 11, 2012