Stoke City Vs Manchester United
Apr 14, 2013 at 3:00pm (UK )
Referee: Jon Moss; Assistants: M McDonough, J Flynn;
Stoke host Manchester United on Sunday looking to pounce on United‘s last loss against City whereas United go into the match with a 12 point lead at the top of the table and desperate to dish out their last outing ‘s frustration on the lowly potters who have won just a single game since the Boxing day.
The Potters at the moment are on 34 points and just 3 places off the drop zone and any points taken now will prove to be vital at the end of the season. Last week Stoke suffered a major setback in their quest to guarantee safety in the BPL when they lost 3-1 embarrassingly to relegation threatened Aston Villa. This match is more important to the home side as they are still fighting to escape relegation and their form over the past couple of months has been woeful. Tony Pulis is under threat of his first ever relegation as a manager and he will need his side to play well and also the home fans to get behind their players and make things difficult for United.
- Time to get things right again
The Potters have to check on the fitness of midfielder Matthew Etherington and defender Marc Wilson after both players were forced off in their loss to Aston Villa last weekend with a back and hamstring problem respectively. The return of Glenn Whelan from a back problem will be a big boost to the Potters after he trained this week and has been cleared to play.
On the other hand, Manchester United will be the favorites to win this game and move another step closer to their much awaited 20th title. United boss Sir Alex has warned his players that any slip ups against Stoke at Britannia will be punished.
Manchester United ‘s lead at the top was trimmed to 12 points last Monday when they lost to rivals City and they will be look to put things right again and avoid dropping any more points till the end of the season. But it is inevitable that United will get all 3 points easily at Britannia after Sir Alex himself said:
“It’s still a difficult place to go to, Ask any manager and player you know you have to perform to get a result there. It’s one of those grounds where they have a great support and the atmosphere is always guaranteed so we have a job to do.”
If United lose this game against Stoke, it will be the first time in 50 outings that they will suffer back-to-back losses. Last season in this corresponding fixture at Britannia, Stoke managed to get a point against United with a goal from their towering striker Peter Crouch but this time United will need their Centre backs to be physically strong against Stoke and contest every aerial ball and win it.
Ashley Young is out for the next two weeks with an ankle injury sustained during Monday’s defeat to ManchesterCity. The return of Centre backs Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic will be crucial as they returned to training on Friday. Paul Scholes won ‘t be playing as he has been ruled out with a knee injury.
- The return of Evans will strengthen the United back line
Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Shotton, Nzonzi, Whelan, Kightly; Walters, Jones.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Valencia, Rooney,Welbeck; Van Persie.
- The Potters have scored the fewest goals in the Premier League this season with 28.
- The last time Stoke met the Red Devils, they lost 4-2 at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney bagged a brace and an own-goal too in that game.
- Stoke have the second-worst pass completion percentage in Britain’s top division (70.4 %).
- The Red Devils are one of the worst teams in England in aerial duels won per game with 14.5, fewer than Queens Park Rangers, Southampton and Reading.
- Sir Alex’s side has committed the second-fewest fouls per game with 10.1.
- Wayne Rooney has the joint-second highest number of assists this season with nine. Only Juan Mata has more.
Prediction: Stoke City 1-2 Manchester United