Manchester United, undefeated in 16 matches in all competitions, will take a trip to the Bet365 Stadium to play Stoke City over the weekend.
After a prolonged series of ups and downs (mostly downs), Manchester United seem to be improving under Jose Mourinho. Despite a significant improvement in form, the Red Devils remain sixth in the league table, right below Manchester City. Their draw with Liverpool ended their run of seven straight league victories, but United are finding form and the signs are positive.
On the other hand, Stoke has been facing a difficult season of sorts. They sit ninth in the league and might be looking to get lucky against Mourinho’s side at their home stadium.
With no fresh injury problems, Mourinho is sure to go with a similar side. Juan Mata could come back in for either Anthony Martial or Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whilst Luke Shaw is short of match fitness.
Mame Biram Diouf and Wilfried Bony are both at the Africa Cup of Nations so neither will play the game this weekend. Jack Butland is a long-term absentee and Jonathan Walters is out too. Bojan Krkic has revealed his desire to leave, and hence will be unlikely to feature.
- The teams last played in October 2016 and the game ended in a 1 – 1 draw. Before that they played in February 2016 and Manchester United won 3 – 0.
- Stoke City is ninth in the Premier League with 27 points having won 7 games, drawn 6 and lost 8. They are two points below West Bromwich.
- Manchester United is sixth in the Premier League with 40 points having won 11 games, drawn 7 and lost 3. They are two points below Manchester City.
League head to head
02/10/2016 Premier League 2016/2017 Manchester United 1 – 1 Stoke City
02/02/2016 Premier League 2015/2016 Manchester United 3 – 0 Stoke City
26/12/2015 Premier League 2015/2016 Stoke City 2 – 0 Manchester United
01/01/2015 Premier League 2014/2015 Stoke City 1 – 1 Manchester United
02/12/2014 Premier League 2014/2015 Manchester United 2 – 1 Stoke City
01/02/2014 Premier League 2013/2014 Stoke City 2 – 1 Manchester United
Stoke City – Joe Allen
Now, Joe Allen may not rank among the greatest midfielders of his generation, but there is more than a little wiggle room for him between legend and loser, and he inches more towards the former. In other words, Allen is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the Premiere League right now.
He has fit in more than comfortably as Stoke’s number 10. His goal against Leicester City was his fifth Premier League goal of the season, more than what he managed in the previous four seasons combined. The move from Liverpool to Stoke might have been bitter initially, but Allen has truly risen up to the occasion and made it his own.
Manchester United – Juan Mata
Over the course of the last couple of games across all leagues, Mata has been in sublime form. Be it against Hull City or any other team faced by the Red Devils, Mata has somehow managed to leave a mark in each of those games. Mata enjoys frequently bewildering his opponents with his change of direction and range of passing. Only six players have started more matches than Mata this term, though, and Mourinho has successfully incorporated him into both of his formations.
Although United have been consistent recently, there is a sense that they could suffer a shock result. If United are able to absorb any nasty shocks that crop up, the match should end in a fairly easy 2-0 victory for Manchester United.