Manchester United will be hoping to get back to winnings ways when they travel to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City this weekend. The 1-1 draw against Liverpool last time out put an end to nine successive victories, however, Jose Mourinho’s side head into this game unbeaten in their last 16 games in all competitions.
The hosts have shot up the league following a torrid start to the season and now sit ninth however only Burnley (23) have scored fewer goals than the Potters in the top half of the table and no side have let in more than Mark Hughes’ men (33) in the top half. The aforementioned Mark Hughes was and still is a favourite among the Old Trafford faithful for his two stints at the club during the eighties and nineties. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this season as Anthony Martial cancelled out Joe Allen’s opener although the Reds couldn’t make their dominance pay on a frustrating Sunday afternoon in October. Let’s take a look at some connections between the two teams, starting with the man in the opposing dugout.
In two separate stints at Old Trafford, ‘Sparky’ made over 450 appearances for the Reds, scoring over 150 times. He was and is a club legend, he won every domestic trophy for the Reds including two league titles (1992/93 and 1993/94). He joined Everton via spells at Chelsea and then Southampton and finished his career at Blackburn Rovers in 2002. Hughes turned his head to management after hanging up his boots and has been in charge at United’s rivals Manchester City and Fulham just to name a few. This is Hughes’ fourth year in charge at the Bet365 Stadium, having guided the Potters to three successive ninth place finishes.
The English defender started his career at Old Trafford having come through the youth ranks however only ever made two substitute appearances for the Reds, against Crewe Alexandra in 2006 and again in the next round as United were knocked out by Championship side Southend United. Just a few months later Shawcross was sent on loan to Belgian side Royal Antwerp before joining Stoke City on a permanent basis in 2008. He has made over 300 appearances for the Potters and is now club captain.
Bardsley, like Shawcross, came through the academy at United as a youngster. He was sent on loan no fewer than five times during his time at Old Trafford, however, might have been correct in thinking he’d made his breakthrough during the 2005/06 season as he made 15 appearances in all competitions mainly down to the injury of Gary Neville. However, the defender made the move to Sunderland in 2008 after struggling to hold down a first-team place before joining Stoke on a free transfer in 2014.
Mame Biram Diouf
Mame Biram Diouf joined the Reds from Norwegian side Molde FK in 2009, making him the first Senegalese player to play for United. He made just nine appearances in all competitions scoring once – in a 3-0 home win over Burnley at Old Trafford – before joining Bundesliga club Hannover 96. In the summer of 2014, he returned to the Premier League with Stoke City where he has scored 17 times in all competitions for Mark Hughes’ side.