Friday 19, October 2012
Manchester United vs. Stoke City preview
MANCHESTER UNITED return from the international break with a tough encounter against Stoke City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
However last season, United surrendered their 100% record after Stoke came from behind to earn a deserved 1-1 draw at the Britannia last September. In addition, Stoke haven’t won at United since 1976, and the last point they picked up there was in 1980.
The Potters end a testing run of games, having played Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool in three of their last four. But points against City and Liverpool, and a narrow defeat to Chelsea show that they are no push overs when it comes to the bigger clubs.
Stoke strengthened their squad over the summer, and now look like a club capable of finishing in the top-10, and maybe even have the depth to challenge for a cup too. The experience of cup-winning players like Michael Owen, Maurice Edu and Charlie Adam may contribute significantly.
United face the first of two back-to-back Champions League matches with Braga on Tuesday, with two matches at Stamford Bridge, and a home match against Arsenal in-between.
Usually Sir Alex Ferguson would field his strongest team, but with these matches looming, and the late return of England’s internationals, he may choose to leave the likes of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick on the bench.
On the positive side, Jonny Evans played an impressive 90 minutes for Northern Ireland mid-week against Portugal. Chris Smalling is close to returning after weeks out, but Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones remain sidelined.
Stoke’s only injury concern is to Glen Whelan, who suffered a hamstring injury against Liverpool last time out. Ryan Shawcross was part of the England squad that returned late, but having not been involved, the former United trainee is likely to take up his place at the heart of Stoke’s defence.
Andy Wilkinson is available again after his three match ban for elbowing Mario Balotelli, but Tony Pulis is likely to stick with the back four who played against Liverpool.
Michael Owen will be hoping to start against his former club, but is likely to start on the bench as Peter Crouch is predicted to start.
Provisional Squad: De Gea, Lindegaard, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Buttner, Wootton, Anderson, Giggs, Carrick, Nani, Scholes, Cleverley, , Valencia, Fletcher, Kagawa, Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck, van Persie, Henriquez, Macheda, Bebe
Provisional Squad: Begovic, Sorenson, Cameron, Huth, Shawrcoss, Wilson, Upson, Wilkinson, Shotton, Palacios, Edu, Ness, Nzonzi, Adam, Whitehead, Kightly, Delap, Etherington, Jones, Owen, Crouch, Walters, Jerome
Quays News Prediction: 1-0, United will inevitably have a majority of the possession, and will dominate the midfield, but Stoke’s rear guard will soak up the pressure, like they did against Liverpool. Stoke would do well to leave Manchester with a point, but United have pace on the wings, and van Persie on the pitch which should prove to be the deciding factors.
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