Preview: Jose Mourinho to pile the pressure on Mark Hughes on Sunday?


Old Trafford, Manchester

Premier League 2016/17

Sunday 2nd October 2016 – KO 12:00 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Bobby Madley

Assistant Referees: Marc Perry and Eddie Smart

Fourth Official: Mike Jones

Manchester United will entertain Mark Hughes’ Stoke City at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon in a match which could add further pressure on the former United striker after a tough start to the season. Stoke have two points in the Premier League this season, sit bottom of the table and desperately need to find some points in order to better their position, as soon it will be too late and they could face a relegation battle towards the end of the season, much like Aston Villa did last season, falling into the Championship. United have a good record against Stoke City in the Premier League at Old Trafford, winning all eight matches, scoring 25 goals, conceding just six – keeping four clean sheets. Jose Mourinho will be looking to extend United’s form against Hughes’ side in the league by making sure they leave Old Trafford with another defeat to their record, helping United to turn Old Trafford back into a fortress with their third home win in four this season; losing only to Manchester City earlier in September.

United will be looking to recreate the form they showed against Premier league champions Leicester City just over a week ago, scoring four first half goals in twenty minutes of devastating play for the champions, leading to Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri replacing his two start players; Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez in favour of defensive minded player in order to quell the thrashing his team was getting. United in that for, will be devastating for many teams in the league. It is a shame it never came against Manchester City just under a month ago, as they would have been the kick-start Mourinho’s United needed this season. Still, there are plenty more matches to be played in the league this season and nobody wins it before Christmas, although that is the time United and other teams start to find their feet, getting the wins needed to strengthen their challenge for the league title on their rivals.

Manchester United may not be ready to win the league, that is something that can be seen as they still seem to struggle against smaller clubs, like they did for much of the match against Northampton Town and Zorya Luhansk – the teams that played the majority of the match with much of their team behind the ball. United will need to find a way to unlock their devastating attack in those circumstances or other teams will see that they struggle and that will be their tactics for matches against United. Saying that, United did not play their strongest side against Northampton Town and Zorya Luhansk with many key players missing in Mourinho’s bid to take the Premier League seriously, with the other competitions in the passenger seat, for now at least. That may well change heading into October, November, and December with the matches coming through thick and fast.

United will play six matches in October, much like September; four Premier League matches, one UEFA Europa League match and one EFL Cup match. United will need to be better than their opposition; Stoke City, Liverpool, Fenerbahçe, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Burnley. Five of the matches will be played in a two-week period with much of October being taken up by the international break after the Stoke match. United will need to up their game. After the last international break, United commenced with a home match against Manchester City, a defeat and the first in three consecutive matches. That cannot happen after this international break with United needing to up their game considerably against Liverpool, to make sure a defeat does not derail them once again.

Jose Mourinho only has Phil Jones on the sidelines through injury. Henrikh Mkhitaryan returned to training ahead of the Zorya match but was not involved. He could find himself in contention to play a part against Stoke City, but I doubt he will start. Luke Shaw was another who has been absent recently through injury and illness. His miss the Europa League clash through illness and could well return to the squad this weekend. Daley Blind played in his position against Leicester City last weekend with Marcos Rojo standing in for him during the week. Blind could well start at left-back once again, which will be deserved after his performance against the champions. Mark Hughes has an injury crisis with six players on the sidelines; Joe Allen, Jonathan Walters, Jakob Haugaard, Jack Butland, Stephen Ireland, Ibrahim Afellay. Some will nor be fit for the visit to Manchester, but others could be involved, which may be a boost for Hughes’ side.

Manchester United Form:- WWWLL

Zorya Luhansk 1-0 W, Leicester City 4-1 W, Northampton Town 3-1 W, Watford 3-1 L, Feyenoord 1-0 L

Manchester United won their last three matches in a row, ending the three-match losing streak which hit the club a few weeks back, sending the manager, the players and the supporters in to their lowest point of the new season. It was better that it happened early on, as United seem to have found their feet and will be wanting to commence the international break with a four-match winning run, which will see them face Liverpool after the break, with a view to United continuing their good form against their North West rivals in the Premier League. United have played well recently, especially against Leicester City. The matches against Northampton Town and Zorya Luhansk were less convincing, but the squads for those matches were greatly changed with many key players being rested, keeping them fresh for the league matches, which seems to be Jose Mourinho’s priority this season, despite fighting in three competitions currently.

Stoke City Form:- DLLLL

West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D, Hull City 2-1 L, Crystal Palace 4-1 L, Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 L, Everton 1-0 L

Stoke City have not had the best of starts this season, earning two points in six Premier League matches, and losing four of their last five matches in all competitions. Mark Hughes will be under pressure to save his job, well he would be if the media thought the prospect of the story was an attractive one, but Manchester United seem to be the main story in the newspapers these days, as that pays the bills clearly. Stoke have many talented players, but something seems to be going wrong for them. Granted, just like last season, and the two before, Hughes’ side will turn up at Old Trafford on Sunday and play like they are Barcelona, as a match at the Theatre of Dreams seems to be their cup final, or at least a chance of being close to playing in one. Stoke seem to be as pathetic as Sunderland as far as the team’s fight is concerned. Probably a relegation contender if they don’t start finding their feet, which could well be for the best.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

6 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Juan Mata, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling

Stoke City Top Scorers:

3 – Peter Crouch, 2 – Marko Arnautovic, 1 – Joe Allen, Phil Bardsley, Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Marc Wilson

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

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, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

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

Injuries and Suspensions: Phil Jones (knee)

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: Joe Allen (hamstring), Jonathan Walters (ankle), Jakob Haugaard (ankle), Jack Butland (ankle), Stephen Ireland (broken leg), Ibrahim Afellay (ACL)

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City

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