Stoke City v Manchester United

Britannia Stadium, Stoke-On-Trent

Sunday 14th April 2013 – KO 14:05

Referee: J.Moss; Assistants: M.McDonough & J.Flynn; Fourth Official: M.Jones

Manchester United face an important trip to the Britannia Stadium where their will face Stoke City tomorrow afternoon. Last season United drew 1-1 with Stoke in this fixture. After Monday’s defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford, the Red Devils will be looking for a win this time, which will help them secure the league title as they need 10 points from the remaining 21 available. A win tomorrow and United will have a 15 point lead over Manchester City once again, but they will have a game in hand over United.

Stoke have not been the same team they once were. This season they seem to have struggled and now find themselves close to a relegation position, after finishing in 14th place last season. They have failed to win a match in the league since the 9th February when they beat Reading 2-1. The last point they earned was from the 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion on the 16th March.

Tony Pulis will want his side to beat United tomorrow as it will boost their chances of Premier League survival and could help to blow United’s chances of getting the Premier League title secured sooner rather than later. United have lost two matches in a row now as they lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup and to City on Monday. United hame not lost more than two games in a row all season, the last time was the 1-0 defeat to Norwich in the league on the 17th November and the 1-0 defeat to Galatasaray just three days later.

United have a mini injury crisis with Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Young and Paul Scholes all out for this match, but Jonny Evans has trained this week so could feature. Stoke have Matthew Etherington, Marc Wilson and Glenn Whelan out of action at the moment.

What boss says:

“You know you’re always going to get a hard game at Stoke. That will never change.

“We have a job to do, the incentives are there for ourselves in the sense that we’ve only got seven games left.

“The challenge is there for Stoke as well. I don’t think they will go down but, nonetheless, they’re in a precarious situation because, down the bottom of that league, you don’t pick up a lot of points. I think they’ll get enough to get out.” – Sir Alex Ferguson

Players to watch:

Robin van Persie: The Dutchman has not scored for United in 10 matches now, but I really do not think he is on a goal drought. He does a lot in each match he plays. Perhaps his supply is on the drought! I feel United need to go back to basics to sort this one out. 4-4-2 is a typical formation for United and it could be the key to getting a goal from the Dutchman once again. He scored for the Netherlands three times during international duty, so the Robin we all know is still there. He has a great record against Stoke with Arsenal. He has scored six goals against this in his career in England so far!

Michael Owen: Whether the former England striker gets on the pitch or stays on the bench will be the big difference to Stoke City. This will effectively be the last time he could play his former club Manchester United in his career, which will end as soon as this season does. It is a shame to see Michael leave his career as he has been one of the best strikers for this country, Imagine if injury did not blight his career and he came to United when they wanted him. He could have been unstoppable! I am sure he still has a few goals in him yet.

Manchester United Statistics:

Based on Barclays Premier League 2012/13 [statistics taken from the Official Barclays Premier League website]

Played 31 matches, won 25, drawn 2, lost 4 and currently have 77 points
Scored 71 goals (2.29 goals per match) & conceded 33 goals (1.06 goals per match) – 2 were pens
Longest unbeaten streak is 18 matches
Clean sheet record 35%

Stoke City Statistics:

Based on Barclays Premier League 2012/13 [statistics taken from the Official Barclays Premier League website]

Played 32 matches, won 7, drawn 13, lost 12 and currently have 34 points
Scored 28 goals (0.88 goal per match) & conceded 39 goals (1.22 goals per match) – 2 were pens
Longest unbeaten streak is 10 matches
Clean sheet record 31%

Top Scorers (in all competitions):

Manchester United: 23 – Robin van Persie, 16 – Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, 6 – Own Goal, 5 – Ryan Giggs, Shinji Kagawa, 4 – Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, 3 – Rafael da Silva, Luis Nani, 2 – Luis Anderson, Danny Welbeck, 1 – Alexander Büttner, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Nick Powell, Paul Scholes, Nemanja Vidic

Stoke City: 9 – Jonathan Walters, 6 – Peter Crouch, 5 – Kenwyne Jones, 4 – Cameron Jerome, 3 – Michael Kightly, 2 – Charlie Adam, 1 – Own Goal, Robert Huth, Michael Owen, Ryan Shawcross, Matthew Upson, Dean Whitehead

Manchester United Form: LLWWDL

Last six competitive matches: Manchester City – L 1-2, Chelsea – L 1-0, Sunderland – W 0-1, Reading – W 1-0, Chelsea – D 2-2, Real Madrid – L 1-2

Stoke City Form: LLDLLL

Last six competitive matches: Aston Villa – L 1-3, Everton – L 0-1, West Bromwich Albion – D 0-0, Newcastle United – L 1-2, West Ham United – L 0-1, Fulham – L 0-1

Head to Head at the Britannia Stadium:

Played 4 matches at the Britannia Stadium since the Premier League was formed:

Manchester United: Won 3, Drawn 1, Lost 0 – Scored 6 goals, conceded 2 goals and kept 2 clean sheets

Stoke City: Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 3 – Scored 2 goals, conceded 6 goals and kept 0 clean sheets

Nani score the onlt goal for United in this fixture last season (ManUtd.com)

Nani score the only goal for United in this fixture last season (ManUtd.com)

Manchester United Squad:

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Goalkeepers: 1. David De Gea, 13, Anders Lindegaard, 40. Ben Amos

Defenders: 2. Rafael da Silva, 3. Patrice Evra, 4. Phil Jones, 5. Rio Ferdinand, 6. Jonny Evans, 12. Chris Smalling, 15. Nemanja Vidic, 28. Alexander Büttner

Midfielders: 7. Antonio Valencia, 8. Anderson, 11. Ryan Giggs, 16. Michael Carrick, 17. Nani, 18. Ashley Young, 22. Paul Scholes, 23. Tom Cleverley, 24. Darren Fletcher, 25. Nick Powell, 26. Shinji Kagawa

Strikers: 10. Wayne Rooney, 14. Javier Hernandez, 19. Danny Welbeck, 20. Robin van Persie

Doubts/Injuries: 12. Chris Smalling (knock), 15. Nemanja Vidic (calf/shin), 18. Ashley Young (ankle/foot), 22. Paul Scholes (knee), 24. Darren Fletcher (ulcerative colitis) [injury details taken from PhysioRoom.com]

Suspensions: None [suspensions confirmed by the FA.com]

Stoke City Squad:

Manager: Tony Pulis

Goalkeepers: 1. Asmir Begović, 27. Carlo Nash, 29. Thomas Sørensen

Defenders: 2. Geoff Cameron, 4. Robert Huth, 12. Marc Wilson, 17. Ryan Shawcross, 20. Matthew Upson, 28. Andy Wilkinson, 30. Ryan Shotton

Midfielders: 6. Glenn Whelan, 7. Jermaine Pennant, 8. Wilson Palacios, 13. Maurice Edu, 14. Jamie Ness, 15. Steven N’Zonzi, 16. Charlie Adam, 18. Dean Whitehead, 21. Michael Kightly, 22. Brek Shea, 26. Matthew Etherington, 32. Diego Arismendi

Strikers: 9. Kenwyne Jones, 10. Michael Owen, 11. Mamady Sidibe, 19. Jonathan Walters, 25. Peter Crouch, 33. Cameron Jerome

Doubts/Injuries: 6. Glenn Whelan (back), 12. Marc Wilson (hamstring), 26. Matthew Etherington (back) [injury details taken from PhysioRoom.com]

Suspensions: None [suspensions confirmed by the FA.com]

Predicted Formation/Starting XI:

How I think United will start against Stoke City (Paul Bienkowski)

How I think United will start against Stoke City (Paul Bienkowski)

Score Prediction:

Stoke City 1 – 3 Manchester United

By Paul Bienkowski

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