Bent: Black Cats ready for United

United head for Wearside on Saturday trailing reigning Premier

League champions Chelsea by three points after just six games.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men lost 1-0 at Manchester City last weekend 24

hours before United were held 2-2 at Bolton. There were also four

goals in Sunderland’s game at Liverpool, although it is a measure

of the Black Cats’ blossoming confidence that they returned from

Anfield disappointed not to be doing so with all three points after

referee Stuart Attwell’s decision to allow Dirk Kuyt’s

controversial opener. The draw on Merseyside came a week after

Bent’s late equaliser secured a point against Arsenal and five

after his last-gasp penalty sent City home from Wearside

empty-handed to emphasise Sunderland’s growing success rate against

the bigger clubs. Bent told SAFC TV: “As long as we take the great

positives from what we did against Liverpool into the Manchester

United game, I am sure we will be okay because at home against the

big boys, we have been playing so, so well. “Everyone seems to lift

their game and the crowd lifts us and we seem to get the results we

want to get, so if we can continue with the performance from

Liverpool and take it into the United game, then it should be a

good, good game. “I can’t remember the last time we lost to a

so-called big team at home.” The answer to Bent’s poser is that

United were the last member of the Premier League’s aristocracy to

win at the Stadium of Light when Nani’s 28th-minute strike secured

a narrow 1-0 victory on May 2 this year, although it has been

something of a rare occurrence during Steve Bruce’s reign as

manager. Chelsea’s 3-1 success on Wearside in August last year was

followed by 1-0 wins over both Liverpool and Arsenal, while

Tottenham, who finished fourth last season, lost 3-1 in April. Bent

is fully aware of the talent at United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s

disposal even without the injured and out of form Wayne Rooney.

However, he is confident that Sunderland will more than give them a

game if they perform as they have done to date on their own pitch

this season. He said: “United have got some top, top players – they

have got Rooney, [Dimitar] Berbatov, who has been on fire this

year, [Paul] Scholes, [Ryan] Giggs, Nani…the names are endless

with the talent they have in their team. “But at the same time, on

Saturday they have got to come and play on the same pitch we have

got to play on. “The main thing is that we set our stall out and

make it hard for them to beat us, and then we go from there and

make sure we play our game and cause them a few problems.” England

international Bent goes into the game with eight goals to his name

for the new campaign, seven of them for Sunderland and five of

those in the league, a return which leaves him just one behind

Berbatov and Chelsea’s Florent Malouda and level with Didier

Drogba. Meanwhile, Bruce has confirmed that keeper Simon Mignolet

will keep his place this weekend despite Craig Gordon’s return to

fitness.