Sale Sharks v Saracens, Aviva Premiership, January 2
Henson takes aim at Sharks
ESPNscrum Staff
January 2, 2011
Saracens replacement Gavin Henson makes a dash for the line, Saracens v London Wasps, Aviva Premiership, Wembley, London, England, December 26, 2010
Gavin Henson starts for Saracens © PA Photos

Strugglers Sale hosts Saracens in Stockport on Sunday as they go in search of a first win in six to lift the gloom that has fallen on Edgeley Park.

It's been a tumultuous week for Sale coach Pete Anglesea, he was promoted to the top job after Mike Brewer's sacking before watching his side pummelled by Leicester at Welford Road. Despite conceding eight tries, Sale showed enough enterprise to score three tries and suggest that there is sufficient class in their ranks to avoid any relegation chat.

Sarries have won three of their last four in all competitions and claimed a 13-6 win over Wasps at Wembley on Boxing Day, a game which saw the return to action of Gavin Henson. Saracens fans will hope the Welsh international can add some sparkle after some pretty functional, if effective, performances of late.

Sale - Player to Watch: Charlie Hodgson is vital to Sale's attacking play and the England international's return is a massive boost to the Sharks.

Sale - Team News: Hodgson is joined in the starting line-up by lock James Gaskell and prop Andrew Sheridan, adding pace and power to a pack that was often on the back-foot against Leicester.

Saracens - Player to Watch: That man again - Gavin Henson. The former Wales centre gets a start at outside-centre following his comeback against Wasps.

Saracens - Team News: Alex Goode returns at fullback following an injury to Chris Wyles, with Michael Tagicakibau moved to the wing to cover for the rested David Strettle.

Key Battle: Sale must find parity at the lineout and in defence after both areas were cruelly shown up by Leicester.

Trivia: Saracens have won their last four fixtures against Sale since the Sharks were victorious at Edgeley Park in September 2008

Stats: Saracens wing David Strettle has beaten the most defenders (20) in the Premiership this season

Quote Unquote:

"We have had a good few days with the squad, and have named a strong 23 for the game. The players know what is expected of them and this is their big chance to start off 2011 well." - Sale coach Pete Anglesea.

"Having spoken to Gavin, he recognises the need we have at outside centre and wants to help the team." - Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter explains Henson's selection at outside-centre.

Fantasy: Sarries fly-half Owen Farrell has racked up 30 points since breaking into the side, is he worth a place in your team for ESPNscrum's Fantasy Rugby Game this weekend?

Prediction: More soul-searching for the Sharks as Sarries edge a close encounter at Edgeley Park.

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