On February first, Manchester United will travel to the Britannia to take on Stoke City. After both teams suffered in January, they will look to get off to a good start in February. The two teams have contrasting season objectives to say the least, with United aiming to get into the top four and Stoke just aiming to stay up. Both teams are in desperate need of points and this is a big game for either side.
At this point in the season, every team is dealing with injuries and these two are no different.
Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini and Rio Ferdinand are both questionable for the Stoke encounter. United will definitely be without Nani and Michael Carrick.
Stoke will be missing Andy Wilkinson through injury and Steven N’Zonzi. after he was sent off in their prior game vs Sunderland. Both Robert Huth and Matthew Etherington are doubts due to injury.
Stoke City have not beaten Manchester United in the Premier League era and the last time they beat United was in 1984. United have won their last five against Stoke and are unbeaten in their last 13. The two teams have not had a 0-0 draw since 1968. The last 10 times the teams have met the teams have scored at least two goals combined. Stoke have not kept a clean sheet vs United since 1983.
For Stoke to seriously compete in this game they are going to need Oussama Assaidi to create chances for them. Assaidi arrived at the Brittania on loan from Liverpool this summer. Since arriving at Stoke, Assaidi has been a good creator and shown the class that Brendan Rodgers saw in him when he signed him. Assaidi has created a chance every 54 minutes since arriving at Stoke. He’s also proved that he has a good shot on him, scoring three goals – with his most notable goal being the winner against Chelsea. His 33% chance conversion rate makes Assaidi the most clinical player at Stoke, among players that have taken more than one shot. He’s been a much needed injection of quality to the Stoke side and will hope to show his quality vs United.
Manchester United are desperate for points to get back in the top four race and the goals Robin Van Persie can provide will certainly help with that. Van Persie made his return from injury against Cardiff and it only took him six minutes to return to the goals. His finishing abilities make him a special player: he has a 27% chance conversion rate, tied for best in the league among strikers with at least 30 shots, and a 63% clear cut chance conversion rate. With new signing Juan Mata in the side to create chances and Van Persie to put them away United will like their chances going into the game vs lowly Stoke.
Stoke will be up against it to get something against United, even if they are at home. United are the clear favorites and the addition of Juan Mata will help them try and cut through the Stoke defence. That said, upsets happen and the Britannia is a difficult place to go, with Stoke only losing two games there all season. I’m going to have to go with a United win though as the addition and morale boost of Juan Mata, along with the quality of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney will get them through.