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Preview: Manchester United out to get Stoke City

Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent

Premier League 2016/17

Saturday 21st January 2017 – KO 15:00 GMT

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Assistant Referees: J Collin and R West

Fourth Official: G Scott

Manchester United is currently in a good vein of form, with sixteen matches unbeaten, but the Red Devils’ winning run of nine consecutive matches ended with an underwhelming draw against rivals Liverpool. Now, United enters a stretch of four Premier League games as important as any in the season, because the sides ahead of United are pitted against each other, and victory in these four matches, along with a win in the Manchester Derby afterward, will almost guarantee a spot in the top four after that period of play.

However, first, United needs to travel to a difficult Britannia Stadium and pick up a win, and the Red Devils will doubtless be haunted by the previous encounter between these two sides at Old Trafford, in which former Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant produced a shot-stopping masterclass to deny United two of the three points for which they produced a great performance. United’s last encounter against Stoke was one of the many matches this season that was not put to bed, and now, finally, chances to rectify these errors are coming back quickly.

Speaking about United’s unbeaten run, Jose Mourinho took a realistic approach, stating that his men will only play matches to win. Often, teams on unbeaten runs (and past Mourinho sides) allow the hype to reach their head and instead play for draws with the occasional win, but Mourinho seems to believe his men have the ability to continue good form while taking risks.

“I don’t care about the unbeaten run. We will not play any match to extend an unbeaten run to 20 or even more. We play to win.”

Manchester United Form: DWWWW

Liverpool 1-1 D, Hull City 2-0 W, Reading 4-0 W, West Ham 2-0 W, Middlesbrough 2-1 W

Barring a poor first half against Liverpool, United has looked very good in all phases of play for the entirety of the last five minutes, showing great resolve to beat Middlesbrough late and using that momentum to continue through into the New Year. Now, though, with the winning streak ended for Jose Mourinho’s men, it will be a matter of starting up again and producing another impressive run.

Stoke City Form: WLWLL

Sunderland 3-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 L, Watford 2-0 W, Chelsea 4-2 L, Liverpool 4-1 L

Stoke, for the most part, has produced the type of performances one would expect from the promising side- struggling against the league-leading sides, but winning against relegation candidates, the Potters only looked particularly disappointing in a loss to Wolves in the FA Cup. However, Stoke famously almost ended Chelsea’s winning run with a phenomenal start to the match, only to be put away later in the second half.

Manchester United v Stoke City Past Results

Manchester United Wins – 43      Draws – 34           Stoke City Wins – 28

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Joel Pereira

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: N/A

Stoke City Squad:

Manager: Mark Hughes

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Shay Given, Jakob Haugaard, Lee Grant

Defenders: Phil Bardsley, Erik Pieters, Marc Muniesa, Glen Johnson, Bruno Martins Indi, Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron, Philipp Wollscheid

Midfielders: Joe Allen, Glenn Whelan, Stephen Ireland, Ibrahim Afellay, Charlie Adam, Giannelli Imbula, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ramadan Sobhi

Forwards: Marko Arnautović, Wilfried Bony, Mame Biram Diouf, Jonathan Walters, Peter Crouch, Bojan Krkić

Injuries and Suspensions: Bojan Krkić (hip), Jonathan Walters (knee), Geoff Cameron (MCL), Jack Butland (ankle), Stephen Ireland (broken leg)

Predicted Lineup: 4-3-3

Predicted Score:

Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United

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