Stoke City v Manchester United

Saturday 01 February – Britannia Stadium (17:00)

Oscar (L) vies and Jesus Navas (R)

Chelsea’s Oscar (L) vies and Manchester City’s Jesus Navas (R)

Champions Manchester United travel to Stoke this weekend in an effort to gain the much needed three points on their quest to finish in the top four and qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. It’s a tricky trip for United as Stoke are a tough cookie to crack at the Britannia but David Moyes will be hoping new signing Juan Mata can inject some of his magic to spur the Red Devils to victory. Both sides are yet to play their midweek league matches at the time of writing.

Stoke have dropped down the table to 14th place after going on a winless run of five matches with four losses and just one draw. That’s just four points off the relegation zone. They went down 1-0 to Chelsea last weekend in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The return of shot-stopper Asmir Begovic was pivotal as the Bosnian made numerous saves to keep his team in the game. Stoke have been trying to play a bit differently since replacing Tony Pulis with Mark Hughes, but for the most part, they are still the same squad that we’ve seen for the past few seasons.

They’re dangerous from set pieces and defend reasonably well, but other than that they struggle especially playing good football and creating enough clear cut chances. The Potters have won 61% of their aerial duels this season, by some way the highest proportion in the top-flight. As is normal with Stoke, they’ll likely defend deep and narrow, while attacking from wide. Loan signing John Guidetti from Manchester City will be looking for his first goal for the club after making two substitute appearances.

Manchester United’s hopes of silverware this season effectively ended at Old Trafford last Wednesday night. Out of the Premier League title race, out of the FA Cup and long shots to lift the Champions League, David Moyes’ side were knocked out of the Capital One Cup on penalties by struggling Sunderland. It was another damaging blow for United’s new manager, who is running out of opportunities to save his first season in charge.

He might find that not even the impending arrival of Juan Mata is enough to lift the gloom that is threatening to envelope the club. However, Mata has the power to lift players around him and looking at the confidence levels at United that could just be what is needed for last season’s title winning team. The Spaniard was Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the past two seasons and managed 33 goals and 58 assists in his 138 appearances for the Blues. Mata is most at home in the no.10 role but he can also play out wide on the left and has the creativity to hurt defences from all over the pitch. United will be further boosted by the return of star strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie who have recovered from injury.

United have dominated this fixture for many seasons. The Red Devils are unbeaten against Stoke in 13 matches, winning 12 and drawing just once. They have already met twice this season with United winning 3-2 in the first round league clash and a second meeting came in the Capital One Cup where United came out 2-0 victors. With United boasting a strong team including Rooney, Van Persie and Mata they should manage the all important victory.

Have Your Say - *Please Use Your Name & Surname

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages readers to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that the Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their actual name and surname – no anonymous posts or use of pseudonyms will be accepted. You can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the EditorThe Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

Please note that the views that are published are not necessarily those of the Sporting Post.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Popular Posts

From Chaos To Reform

Charl Pretorius writes in his Off The Record column on the 4Racing website that owners, trainers and racing fans are gravely concerned about the state of our industry

Read More »