Full time: United regain their six point lead at the top of the table. After 30 minutes I would have predicted the match ending four- or five-nil. Sunderland dragged themselves back though, thanks partly to United having a nice sit down. I would say United can't win the title playing like this but they've been like this for much of the season and it hasn't done them any harm.
90 min+3: A final chance for Sunderland with a corner. Jones gets it away.
90 min+1: Evra squares the ball to Valencia, at the last minute a Sunderland boot clears, otherwise it would have been 4-1.
90 min: Three minutes of added time.
89 min: It's probably too late for Sunderland now but a team with more potency (or Fletcher on the pitch) could have got at least a point from this game.
88 min: United have been very (x38) lax as the game winds down. The ball trundles very (x39) slowly across the six yard box, a few defenders have a stab at clearing it (unsuccessfully) but Sunderland can't force the ball over the line.
86 min: McFadden is on for Colback. United stream clear after they clear a corner. Jones chips the ball to the far post, it's too high for Van Persie though and his header is off target.
85 min: A gloriously open game now. This time it's United who flash a ball across the Sunderland goal: no one can get on to it. Incredibly, Sunderland are still in this game.
83 min: Wickham's shot takes a slight deflection and De Gea has to save with his legs.
81 min: Larsson hits another decent corner and De Gea gathers eventually after some good work from O'Shea. United have started to relax, particularly in defence.
78 min: Sunderland charge ahead because, let's face it, what else is there to do on a chilly Saturday afternoon when you're being scalped. Scholes does a two-footed special on Colback.
74 min: Giggs is on for Cleverley. Annoyingle I keep on hearing "Chris Hoy" for the referee Chris Foy and expect the cyclist to give out a booking while pulling a wheelie.
GOAL!!!!! Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland (Campbell 71) Sessegnon is allowed to amble after the ball and cross back across goal, it loops over De Gea and Campbell nods in from 0.000006 yards out. JR (69th minute) will be happy to hear Larsson's corner just before that cleared the United defence.
70 min: Vidic is on and is greeted with applause from the Old Trafford faithful. And the adulterers too.
69 min: "This is the tenth Sunderland game I have seen this year," says JR in Illinois. "I'm pretty,sure not a single corner or free kick taken by Seb Larsson has cleared the first man in front of him. But at least outside of that everything he's done has been terrible. Can't O'Neill find anyone to play besides him? He's brutal." In his defence, he is capable to the odd moment of brilliance. It's just that they have with less and less frequency.
66 min: Craig Gardner – Sunderland's best shot from distance – sweeps the ball over from 25 yards out. Wickham has been good since he came on and set that chance up after some good hold up play in the box.
63 min: Sunderland are still pushing United, they're actually getting better the further they fall behind. United have tried this tactic at 1-0 down this season, I'm not sure it's such a good idea when to wait until you're 3-0 down though.
61 min: Sunderland had been getting into the game before that. Wickham had bought himself some space (or was sold it at a very reasonable price by Smalling) and shot just over. Vidic is not warming up – Ferguson may well bring him on now that the game is all but won.
GOAL!!!! Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland (Rooney 59) Van Persie beats Bramble with a nutmeg and passes to Rooney who taps in.
57 min: Scholes gets a big deflection off McClean's cross and it nearly squirms past De Gea. Sunderland have been the better side for the last five minutes or so, definitely their best period of the match.
54 min: Cuellar sprints free after stealing the ball from Young but he gets so excited he bundles into Smalling and United are awarded the free-kick.
51 min: A rare false move from Van Persie. He attempts to chip Mignolet as he rushes out of his goal but the shot bounces wide. If United have had one fault today, it's their inability (so far) to kill this game off completely. Sunderland have been more aggressive since the break.
48 min: Valencia puts in a wicked low cross. Rooney steals in and seems destined to sidefoot it home but Bramble makes an excelletn block. At the other end, De Gea saves Gardner's low shot.
46 min: Scholes is on for Carrick, and Wickham is on for Fletcher, who sustained an injury at the end of the first half. He wasn't going to make a difference in this game but he will be a tough loss if it turns out to be a serious injury. "Vidic has definitely done a good job of intimidating Sunderland," says Rob Bloom. Not only are they scared to go near the United goal, they're too scared to go near the ball, the United players or each other."
Half-time: Young's shout for a corner is waved away and that's the last significant action of a first-half so lopsided it threatened to pull the Sunderland area into the Earth's core.
45 min: Fletcher is back up on his feet again. It lifts Sunderland: McClean shoots from distance but it's smothered by the welcoming arms of De Gea.
43 min: A completely dominant first-half from United. On the positive side for Sunderland, they are only 2-0 down. On the downside, well I'm not sure we've got time to deal with the downside. Fletcher has gone down. There's another one to add to the downside.
40 min: Cleverley tries another curling shot but this is all shot and no curl. And definitely no goal. United do have a corner though, which they're winning at a rate of around five a minute. Evra's header is off target.
37 min: Another corner for United, Smalling nearly gets his head to the ball from around seven yards out. If Sunderland are looking for positives, Colback has been good today. Sessegnon has a chance but Evra deflects it wide.
35 min: Rooney and Van Persie wander into the area. The Dutchman gets into space but Rooney's pass is wayward - that's two missed chances and a poor pass from him today. Just to even things up Van Persie loses the ball a few seconds up later.
33 min: Valencia wins a corner, United's fifth of the day. Jones gets his head to the ball but it sails wide. The ball, not his head. That would have been sickening. And put Sunderland in with half a chance.
30 min: Valencia attempts to release Jones just outside the area, but he stumbles after a collision with O'Shea. Should have been a free-kick. Jones has been excellent getting forward, although Sunderland have been so timid it's hard not to be dangerous. "Revenge is a dish best served with a 7-0 thumping," parps Rob Bloom.
27 min: Gardner's shot is deflected by Carrick for a corner. Sunderland have been better since nearly going 8-0 down. De Gea gets a fist to the corner and United clear.
25 min: Another chance for Rooney, heading wide from seven yards out. He should have killed this game off in the last few minutes. Although, in truth, it looked pretty dead anyway. Hang on, McClean latches on to an error from Ferdinand and tries to beat De Gea from a tight angle. He doesn't. "Looks like Van Persie really has the bit between his teeth today," giggles JR. What are you trying to say?
22 min: Larsson attempts to get the game back on track for Sunderland. Unfortunately, his long ball is directed straight at a wall of United defenders. Wayne Rooney should have made it 3-0 a minute later. Van Persie heads across for Rooney, it's a tad high and he can't keep his volley down. Should have scored.
GOAL!!!!! Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland (Cleverley 19) This could be painful. Cleverley gets the ball just inside the area and curls it past Mignolet. Great finish.
19 min: I suppose United used their inside knowledge of O'Shea's weaknesses and weaknesses to figure out where they could hurt him (defending). Van Persie nearly gets his second, a lovely cross from Jones forces an excellent save from Mignolet.
GOAL!!!! Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland (Van Persie 15) The excellent Young, twists, turns and crosses. O'Shea, forgetting what side he's on, pats it out to Van Persie who slams it home.
15 min: Wayne Rooney tries, well I'm not sure what he tries. It looks like a shot but I think it was an attempt to find Valencia. Anyway, it's out for a goal kick.
11 min: United are putting most of their moves together down the right flank but Sunderland have fought them off so far.
8 min: Young drifts in and his cross-shot is deflected over for a corner. Mignolet punches clear and it's out to Young, and the one-man corner machine wins another. Which also comes to nothing. "Is Rafael still in the doghouse? If not, where is he? This selection is messing up my Fantasy Football points!," asks Dan Anderson. He's not even allowed in the dog house, Dan.
6 min: Sunderland last won at Old Trafford in 1968. They are not doing a good job of changing that so far, United have had the best of possession so far. Sunderland have a throw in near the United box though. The move peters out – a through ball goes straight to De Gea.
3 min: Rooney scurries after a long ball from Ferdinand and wins a throw. Phil Jones gets forward and puts a decent cross in that Mignolet dives to intercept at his near post. "Why would you want to get revenge on Sunderland," asks Paul Gregory. "You just need to wait a while and they'll get revenge on themselves."
1 min: And we're off. Sunderland are wearing their new away kit, something their official Twitter site was very excited about. As are we. "Is it too easy to suggest that after last week's 'run away and hide' performance that Nasri is somewhere near or below talc on the Mohs Scale of Hardness?" wonders John Tumbridge. A bit harsh, I'd say he's calcite. Definitely not as high as orthoclase feldspar, mind.
Right. Vidic starts on the bench, but that just means he has a better vantage point to stare out any Sunderland players. For Sunderland, Titus Bramble comes in for the injured Danny Rose.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, O'Shea (c), Bramble, Johnson, McClean, Cuellar, Fletcher, Sessegnon. Subs: Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Westwood, Saha.
Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Hernandez, Vidic, Welbeck, Scholes, Fletcher.
So, with Manchester City taking victory at Newcastle this afternoon the gap at the top of the Premier League table is down to three points. And while Sir Alex Ferguson is looking to make it six points again, he's said he's not after revenge against Sunderland today. Wayne Rooney, on the other hand, definitely is. You may recall United were at the Stadium of Light on the final day of last season, and it's safe to say the Sunderland fans found the way the title race ended quite the joke. "When the fixtures come out I look for three games – City, Liverpool and Everton," he wrote in his recent book. "This time I checked the Sunderland game. If there is one team that I want to beat this season it will be Sunderland."
Well, there's two points that suggest young Wayne may get his wish. First, if there's one man who you want around when you're after revenge it's Nemanja Vidic, a player rated just above diamond in Moh's Scale of Hardness, and he should be back today. Second, Sunderland aren't very good. Yes, I know they bear Reading in the week but even Arsenal have beaten Reading this season. Albeit with some difficulty.