IT’S our first game against Manchester United since that amazing last day of the season fixture when Man City snatched the title from their close rivals with virtually the last kick of the campaign.
For United, it has been business as usual, being at the top of the table, while our season has never really got going.
So Sunderland are going to be massive underdogs for this one and as such the pressure will be much less on than it was against Reading.
Not many, up and down the country will give Sunderland a prayer in this one.
But United this season have this tendency of going a goal down, of shipping early goals – they’ve conceded the first goal in more than half their games.
OK, they almost always go on to win, but if you are looking for a way to play United it seems to be: be positive and get at them early because they do concede goals.
They have formidable goal-scoring talent with the signing of Robin van Persie, pictured, being added to Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.
It seems as though their approach this season will be a genuinely entertaining one – a kind of ‘we’ll score more goals than you’ attitude.
I also think Sir Alex Ferguson will really want to get one over Sunderland after being hurt by the events of that day at the Stadium of Light.
But given that United are very much an attack-minded side, maybe it’s a chance for Sunderland to be positive and while it goes without saying that Sunderland’s defence will need to be on their mettle, this could be a good opportunity for the Black Cats to enjoy themselves and really have a go.
It’s a massive stage now – with 70,000 fans in the ground – a stage you don’t normally get outside a cup final and maybe this is a chance for Sunderland’s attacking players to show what they’re capable of.
READ the full Gary Rowell column in Thursday’s Echo