Sunderland defender Cuellar: Rooney and Van Persie the ultimate test

Carlos Cuellar
Carlos Cuellar
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CARLOS CUELLAR admits he is tasked with marking the two best strikers in the Premier League this weekend, writes Chris Young.

Manchester United front pair Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie have plundered 17 goals between them in the opening 16 top flight games – as many as Sunderland’s entire squad have netted in total this season.

Both Rooney and van Persie were on the scoresheet in last Sunday’s 3-2 derby victory at Manchester City, which moved United six points clear at the top of the table.

And Cuellar is under no illusions about the task in front of him and Sunderland central defensive partner John O’Shea tomorrow, with the latter making his first appearance at Old Trafford since ending his 12-year stint with United 18 months ago.

The Spaniard told the Echo: “You have to say Rooney and Van Persie are the best strikers in the Premier League at the moment.

“They showed that against Man City.

“They don’t need to play good football, they can score on just one counter-attack because their quality is unbelievable.

“It will be tough on Saturday but it’s one of the games everyone looks forward to playing.”

Cuellar insists Sunderland should not fear the prospect of facing United though, as Sunderland look to record their first victory at Old Trafford since 1968.

Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory over Reading has provided Sunderland with a major boost after moving out of the relegation zone, a point clear of the bottom three.

And Cuellar says Sunderland’s self-belief was beginning to grow anyway after a spirited display against third placed Chelsea last weekend.

“After getting the confidence boost of Tuesday, we have a chance in this game,” added the 31-year-old.

“I think there was confidence here even when we were losing.

“Against Chelsea we lost because of a few mistakes, but the performance was still very good.

“You have to play without fear at Man United. You have to give them respect, but if we play like on Tuesday, we have a chance.”