Stoke City have endured a tough start to the season, having failed to win in their first 6 games of the season. Currently sitting in the relegation zone at the 19th spot, the Potters, who have been renowned for their defensive muscle over the last few years have already shipped 15 goals in the league and their defensive miseries do not seem be parting ways with them. They travel to Manchester United on Sunday in a bid to reverse the trend and eke out a positive result to give their fans something to cheer about.
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, on the other hand, come into the game with a narrow victory over Zorya in the midweek and will be hoping to replicate the performance against the Champions Leicester City that enthralled the Old Trafford audience last week.
Luke Shaw is expected to miss the game against Stoke as he is still recovering from illness and joins Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Thigh injury) and Phil Jones (Knee injury) on the sidelines. However, Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera could start the game against Stoke after being rested for the game against Zorya. It is unlikely that Anthony Martial or Wayne Rooney could feature in a starting role with Mourinho expected to continue with Zlatan Ibrahimovic atop the line-up.
De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Rashford; Ibrahimovic
Having taken just their second point of the season in the last game against West Brom, Stoke City are expected to start the game that started against West Brom. The only player who remains doubtful for the game against the Manchester giants is Joe Allen, who is currently nursing a hamstring niggle and will need to undergo a late fitness test to be declared fit for the match.
Grant; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan, Shaqiri, Allen, Arnautovic; Bony
Despite being touted to be one of the players who would be shown the door by new manager Jose Mourinho, the Spaniard has definitely been one of the best players in the Manchester United line-up. He has been creating chances regularly, has linked up well with his attacking colleagues and has even found the back of the net on a couple of occasions in the 5 games he has featured in.
What has impressed us the most about the creative midfielder is his improved work rate. He has been combative in the middle of the park, making tackles and interceptions in order to bolster his side’s midfield, making him indispensable to the current unit. Even former critic Mourinho has been full of praise for the Spaniard and Mata will be hoping to repay his manager’s faith in him by putting in another creative performance against the Struggling Stoke City.
The arrival of Shaqiri to Stoke City was expected to yield a higher number of goals at the club. However, that has not been the scenario, as Stoke have failed to capitalise on his abilities. Having missed 4 games owing to an injury, the Swiss attacker will be hoping to make amends in the games to come. Shaqiri has shown an ability to change the course of the game on its head with his creative displays and could prove to be a handful for the Manchester United defence, a unit which has looked shaky thus far this season.
With United full-backs often driving forward to assist their attacking colleagues, Shaqiri could be afforded time and space on the right wing, a position that could prove detrimental to United gaining a positive result for consecutive game in the league. While there is no dearth of attacking quality in the side, they have failed to link up and it will largely be up to Shaqiri to knit the attacking unit together.
- The two sides have locked horns on 90 occasions in the past, with United coming out on top 40 times compared to Stoke’s 24 victories.
- Manchester United have won each of their last 8 games against Stoke City at Old Trafford.
- Stoke’s City’s last win at Old Trafford came in the 1976 season. Incidentally, it was also the last time Stoke managed to keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford.
While Manchester United themselves have not been in the best form themselves, their quality might prove to be too much to handle for Stoke City. United are finding their goal scoring mojo back and with Stoke City shipping goals like never before, we could witness a huge win for the Red Devils. We predict a 4-0 victory for the home side.