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What Was Said: Mourinho rues result but a point is a point!

Manchester United’s 100% record in the Premier League has been ended just four matches into the season. The first three matches saw United win all three, scored ten goals and conceded none. The international break drove a wedge into the season which commenced again this weekend. United have been winless in Stoke for some time now, which still does not change today. United conceded their first goal of the season after Maxim Choupo-Moting scored close to the end of the first half, United levelling the score through Marcus Rashford a minute into stoppage time.

In the 57th minute of the match, United took the lead through Romelu Lukaku, with Choupo-Moting scoring his second goal to level the score, which is where it ended for United. This is an improvement over a year ago where United fell to a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the first match after the international break and United still sit at the top of the Premier League table, albeit on goal difference. United manager Jose Mourinho spoke to the media after United’s first draw of the season, settling for the result in which he stated, “a point is a point”. Mourinho said:

“It was a difficult match for different reasons. My players, after the international break, are not the same. They weren’t performing at their normal level but we were in the game, we fought hard and we were closer to winning than losing. Stoke are big, strong and powerful in the air. They fought hard and probably deserved a point. It is not what we came for but a point is a point. The performance was more than enough for the point and enough for the three points.”

Mourinho also spoke about the international break and how it could have played a part in the result at the bet365 Stadium, saying:

“It was easy for me to feel that national teams leave a stamp on the players – they are not so fast, they are not so creative, they are not so sharp, they are not so strong, so ready, so focused from the mental point of view. Fifteen days away, playing two matches, travelling, some not playing, training, who knows why and how. It was easy to feel that some of the players were not in their best shape and the opponent is always a difficult opponent to play. The characteristics that the stadium gives to the football matches is always hard here. Could we win? Of course we could. We made a big mistake for the second goal and missed a couple of chances but it’s a result that I accept.”

Mourinho also spoke about being happy with his player’s character, saying:

“It’s not easy to come from behind here, especially with the handicap of the players’ condition. [Nemanja] Matic played the game of his life for the national team, some of the boys played two consecutive matches in three days. Eric Bailly arrived yesterday to train and to travel. The national teams make it normally difficult for us, so I’m not disappointed. I’m not disappointed at all.”

The manager confirmed that his Manchester United side tried to win the match, saying:

“We tried, we were the only team that tried to do it in the last 20 minutes. But they defended, they were lucky with some late rebounds in front of the goal. Maybe Romelu [Lukaku] could have had a better contact with the ball and score with the cross from the right but that’s the result and there’s nothing we can do now but try to be ready for Tuesday [against Basel].”

Mourinho is pleased with his £75 million signing Romelu Lukaku after he scored his fifth goal of the season for the Red Devils, saying:

“I’m happy with Lukaku with or without goals because his contribution is always good. With one more goal we win 3-2 but without the mistake at the corner then we win 2-1 and Lukaku’s miss doesn’t matter. That was a great save by David De Gea – the only one he did, because in the first half there was only a couple of slow shots by Xherdan Shaqiri. But we couldn’t protect the corner and he was punished, we were punished.”

The Portuguese manager also spoke about Stoke’s battling in the encounter, confirming:

“No, I’m not satisfied with a point because we were the team closer to winning. I have to say it is a result I accept though. One team tried to win, one team tried to get the point but they fought hard to get that point – they defended well, they counter-attacked and in set-pieces they are powerful.”

United will need to get ready for their next match, their UEFA Champions League group stage opener against FC Basel on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford. Next weekend they will entertain Everton and the return to Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford before taking on Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup the following week. These next three matches are important for United, as they will define the season. Getting three points on the board in the Champions League is important as it did not go that way in the competition the last time, with Luke Shaw suffering that double leg fracture and last season the club falling to defeat in the UEFA Europa League at the hands of Feyenoord. United needed to see the lead slip away from their grasp today, it will help the determination of a long and tough season where United will see the same on occasion, knowing how to change it and aiming to do so.

Report: Rashford and Lukaku strike to earn a draw at Stoke; Manchester United still top the Premier League

Manchester United drew 2-2 with Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday evening. The Jose Mourinho Out brigade will rear their ugly heads again as they concentrate on the results rather than how their team plays, probably because they don’t actually watch matches. Maxim Choupo-Moting opened the scoring with United, through Marcus Rashford levelling the score before the end of the first half. United took the lead in the 57th minute of the match through Romelu Lukaku, scoring his fifth goal for United before Choupo-Moting scored again to deny United the victory. It is another dark day on Stoke for United, another match without a win but more importantly a match without a defeat which still keeps United at the top of the Premier League, albeit on goal difference.

Jose Mourinho made a few changes with Matteo Darmian and Ander Herrera making their first starts for United this season. Marouane Fellaini received a knock during the international break whilst playing for Belgium and Daley Blind is on the bench. United started well, getting a chance in the opening stages but it not coming to fruition. Stoke had a good start also with Jese Rodriguez getting in behind United’s defence with his shot just wide of the target, luckily for United. Stoke has been doing well in the opening stages of the match but United’s defence were more than a match.

Paul Pogba was drifting around the midfield in the 11th minute of the match, actually getting all over the pitch, dropping back and putting passes over the top for Romelu Lukaku. It was all passing by United at this stage, but the players lacked any real threat for the home side. Stoke had the chance then to create something through Maxim Choupo-Moting winning the ball in the left corner, putting in a deep cross with Mame Biram Diouf pressuring Matteo Darmian, the Italian heading away. United were not doing much in the final third, which is where they needed to be doing everything they could to command the match.

Choupo-Moting caught David De Gea off his line in the 19th minute of the match, whacking his volley goalwards from 35 yards, doing absolutely nothing for the home side to take the lead early in the match. In the 20th minute, Lukaku got down the right, putting in a low cross which was flicked goalwards by Pogba, Kurt Zouma blocking the Frenchman’s effort. Mourinho has not won in any of his last three visits to Stoke as a manager, obviously wanting to leave the bet365 Stadium with three points in the bag today. In the 25th minute, Marcus Rashford burst through the defensive line was played in by Eric Bailly. Rashford had a shot from an angle but Jack Butland thwarted his effort.

In the 27th minute, Stoke had another effort, this time through Xherdan Shaqiri, shooting from 25-yards with De Gea making the save. Rashford had a chance a minute later, finding some space in the box with his snap-shot but Butland did well to deny him with Lukaku trying to get the ball and being flagged for offside. Shaqiri had another chance, De Gea making the save. United then started to find their game, having plenty of chances through Rashford but with Stoke so far denying them from scoring a goal whether through Butland or Zouma. The game started to slow a little after the chances.

In the 34th minute of the match, Antonio Valencia got in behind the right channel and put in a decent cross but it had too much on it for Lukaku to get to the end of. United won a free-kick after Darren Fletcher fouled Pogba. Nemanja Matic took the free-kick, it going direct and being put out the box easily by Stoke after a poor delivery by the Serbian. Stoke started making it difficult for United with their defending and it started something with Choupo-Moting breaking the deadlock in the 44th minute of the match, United’s first goal conceded in the Premier League season so far.

Two minutes were added at the end of the first half. United levelled the score with what seemed to be a Pogba goal, which actually came off Marcus Rashford. The half ended 1-1 with all to play for in the second half. United are back at the top of the league, albeit through goal difference at the break. Mourinho will be looking for his side to go all out for the win in the second half which could see Anthony Martial coming off the bench, which was the case in the first two matches of the season, seeing United dominate scoring multiple quick goals late in the second half of their first two matches, both 4-0 scorelines.

At the start of the second half Stoke match the change bringing on Bruno Martens Indi with Geoff Cameron coming off. In the opening few minutes of the second half, United looked bright with Rashford nearly released and through on goal. Lukaku’s pass was collected by Stoke with the Belgian trying to get the ball back, fouling Joe Allen. Rashford was looking lively, playing a pass to Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the advance, who was flagged for offside. United looking a little better but changes may be needed to really change the game. In the 57th minute of the match after some good play, United took the lead through Romelu Lukaku after Darmian created the attacking play. Lukaku missed with his first shot with Butland making the save, the Belgian getting in with his second shot. 2-1 to United.

The lead was short-lived for United with Choupo-Moting levelling in the 64th minute of the match with De Gea unable to make the save and United’s defence not doing their jobs. Moments before, United made the save through De Gea, thwarting the effort moments before Stoke’s second goal of the match. United have it all to do again. Just five minutes and 42 seconds stood between United’s second goal and Stoke’s equaliser. United nearly took the lead again through Valencia with his shot slightly wide of the target. Jose Mourinho made his first changes of the match with Juan Mata and Anthony Martial replacing Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera. Stoke made their second change with Saido Berahino coming on for Rodriguez.

United had a chance to take the lead again in the 77th minute through Pogba whose effort about 30-yards away from goal was hit straight at Butland. Stoke did have plenty of players behind the ball, which was making it difficult for United. Lukaku had a chance in the 81st minute of the match with Martial setting the Belgian up, hitting the ball with his ankle and the ball going over the crossbar. United were doing much of the pressing, not having much success. Pogba fouled Allen with Stoke getting a free-kick. United were immediately on the attack through Mata and Lukaku, Stoke getting back to deny United from a clear chance. Mourinho made his third and final change in the 84th minute with Jesse Lingard replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

United won a free-kick through Mata in the final minute of the match at the edge of the box. Martial had played a decent cross into the box moments before, United not doing anything with it because of the foul. Stoke have a strong wall, which is where Lukaku’s attempt went. Stoke tried to turn it into a counter attacking play, but United regained possession. United had another chance with Phil Jones getting a touch of the ball with Butland making a last-ditch save to deny United from scoring. United tried to get something from the game with plenty of chances coming in the final minutes of the match, Pogba having the last chance. t was a 2-2 draw for United, gone is their 100% record at the start of the season, but they are undefeated but still winless at Stoke.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 45+1′, Romelu Lukaku 57′

Assists: Paul Pogba 45+1′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Darmian; Herrera (Mata 72′), Matic; Mkhitaryan (Lingard 84′), Pogba, Rashford (Martial 72′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Smalling, Blind; Carrick

Starting XI: 4-2-3-1 against Stoke City with Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Lukaku leading the attack?

Manchester United embark to Stoke City for Saturday’s evening encounter in the Premier League. Three matches into the new season with three wins under the belt, Jose Mourinho’s side are yet to concede their first goal. Stoke have not had a great start, losing, winning and drawing their opening three matches, looking to send United packing unable to take three points from the bet365 Stadium, which has been the case in the last few visits. Mourinho’s side are much better than last season, at least they have been in the opening three matches, but like last season, the international break could have changed everything with United needing to do better than their three-match losing streak in the three games after the break last season. Granted, United will not be playing Manchester City like they did a year ago, but Stoke does pose some threat for United.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Darmian;

Herrera, Matic;

Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Rashford;

Lukaku

Substitutes:

Romero; Smalling, Blind; Mata, Lingard, Carrick; Martial

Manchester United and Stoke City have met 106 times in the history of both clubs, the first match going back to the 7th January 1893 with a 7-1 humiliation on the cards for Newton Heath. United have won 43 matches, drawing 35 and losing just 28. United were last beaten by Stoke on Boxing Day in 2015, a 2-0 defeat away from home. United are winless in their last four trips to Stoke, last winning on the 18th December 2013, a 2-0 victory in the League Cup with both Ashley Young and Patrice Evra scoring the goals. In the last seven meetings between the two sides, all played in the Premier League, United have won just twice, also losing twice and drawing three times. Stoke seem to be the bane of Manchester United at this moment in time, something which needs to change with Jose Mourinho’s side prospering and leaving Stoke-on-Trent with another three points in the bag. United have a 13 match unbeaten run against Stoke which stretches from the 6th October 1993, ending on the 18th December 2013, a feat of over a decade of matches with United winning twelve times, drawing just once.

Preview: Jose Mourinho to field the same side against Stoke before shuffling the pack midweek?

Stoke City -v- Manchester United

Premier League 2017/18

bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent

Saturday 9th September 2017; KO 17:30 BST

Live on BT Sport

Manchester United embark to Stoke City for Saturday’s evening encounter in the Premier League. Three matches into the new season with three wins under the belt, Jose Mourinho’s side are yet to concede their first goal. Stoke have not had a great start, losing, winning and drawing their opening three matches, looking to send United packing unable to take three points from the bet365 Stadium, which has been the case in the last few visits. Mourinho’s side are much better than last season, at least they have been in the opening three matches, but like last season, the international break could have changed everything with United needing to do better than their three-match losing streak in the three games after the break last season. Granted, United will not be playing Manchester City like they did a year ago, but Stoke does pose some threat for United.

United head into a busy month with seven matches being played over the course of 22 days with the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and the Carabao Cup all coming into contention in September. United will face Stoke on Saturday before entertaining FC Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Everton a week on Sunday, Burton Albion the following Wednesday, Southampton the Saturday after, a trip to Moscow the following Wednesday, then Crystal Palace at home to end the month. Talking about his team in his press conference on Friday, Mourinho said:

“The squad is strong. The players are ready to play, the decision to leave people on the bench is hard, the decision to leave people at home is hard. The fact that now we play every three days, in relation to that, I think is good because the players will feel now that they are all involved. 

“I think, by the end of September every player [will have] played, every player [will have] started matches because it’s the normal movement of the squad and that is not a problem at all – that makes my control of my human resources better, easier and simple. But the matches are difficult and we have always the risk of being unable to keep a winning run, which is really difficult to do.”

Previous Matches:

Manchester United and Stoke City have met 106 times in the history of both clubs, the first match going back to the 7th January 1893 with a 7-1 humiliation on the cards for Newton Heath. United have won 43 matches, drawing 35 and losing just 28. United were last beaten by Stoke on Boxing Day in 2015, a 2-0 defeat away from home. United are winless in their last four trips to Stoke, last winning on the 18th December 2013, a 2-0 victory in the League Cup with both Ashley Young and Patrice Evra scoring the goals. In the last seven meetings between the two sides, all played in the Premier League, United have won just twice, also losing twice and drawing three times. Stoke seem to be the bane of Manchester United at this moment in time, something which needs to change with Jose Mourinho’s side prospering and leaving Stoke-on-Trent with another three points in the bag. United have a 13 match unbeaten run against Stoke which stretches from the 6th October 1993, ending on the 18th December 2013, a feat of over a decade of matches with United winning twelve times, drawing just once.

Form:

Manchester United started their Premier League season in good stead winning their first three matches, scoring ten goals, conceding none and sitting at the top of the Premier League table throughout the season so far. United had a near perfect start last season, winning their first three matches, not so much in this great fashion, but after the international break, they fell to three straight defeats in the league and the UEFA Europa League, which did not put the team into the best form early on. This season, United will need to overcome their troubles from last season, ensuring that they grind out the much-needed results to continue their great start to the season.

Stoke City have had an indifferent start to the new season, sitting in eleventh place with four points after three matches; losing the first match to Everton, beating Arsenal in the second match and drawing against West Bromwich Albion in their third match of the season. This may not be the best time for Stoke City to face Manchester United, after their perfect start to the season, but stranger things have happened, this is football! Mark Hughes has made some changes to his side, ones which may well be for the better and if he can continue United’s poor form in Stoke, he will be doing things right. United may have a trick up their sleeve though.

Team News:

Jose Mourinho has a strong squad to take to Stoke. Luke Shaw and Ashley Young may still be out of action, Shaw played for the U23’s on Friday evening. Young could well be involved in the travelling squad as the manager gave nothing away on Friday. Andreas Pereira left the club on loan on deadline day, something which Mourinho moaned about with it not being ideal, but he was not going to guarantee playing time to a player with all to do at Manchester United. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been suggesting on social media that his return could be coming, but he does like to make the media talk about him, which is a good thing for any snowflakes out there. Mourinho, speaking in his press conference on Friday, said:

“We have to wait and see. There is still one more training session. Not every player has reported yet, so today is the first time we are all together.

“I hope that these 15 days without us being together and working together, doesn’t affect us too much,” Mourinho added at his press conference. “I know it will affect [us]. I know that one thing is a week working with the players and working tactically and going through every principle of play to be ready for the weekend match; another thing is to have the players away and arriving step by step. 

“I don’t even see them all. Today is the first time I see them all together, and obviously, today is not a day to work; today is just a day to make the decision and the selection and to travel to Stoke. But hopefully, we can keep a good level of play.”

Predicted Starting XI:

Match Prediction: Manchester United to overcome the negative nature of a trip to Stoke?

Stoke City 1-3 Manchester United

Opposition Scouting: Stoke City to be a dagger in Manchester United title hopes this weekend?

Stoke City fans will agree this Manchester United team is the best it’s been since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Jose Mourinho has settled and built the team he believes will win this title. It’s hard to see anyone catching United in this form but will that last for the season? Could Stoke be a dagger to their Premier League title hopes this weekend?

Stoke fans are always nervous at the start of the season, starting poorly most seasons under Mark Hughes. When the fixtures were released most fans and pundits believed that this could be the last season Stoke would have in the Premier League. With no incoming transfers apart from Darren Fletcher (formerly of Manchester United) and the loss of our top goal scorer last season Marko Arnautovic to a rival team, Stoke had been written off quite early. The performances last season and the players leaving the club had fans calling for Mark Hughes head. However, the acquirement of Kurt Zouma on a season long loan from Chelsea and also Jesé Rodriguez from Paris Saint-Germain have boosted our defence and attack. Starting with a 1-0 loss at Everton it was hard to see us picking up any points going into the tough fixtures that followed. A 1-0 win against Arsenal and a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion has lifted the fans but also the players who seem to be growing in confidence.

Stoke will need to show the fight and determination they did against Arsenal in the first home game of the season if they are to give Manchester United a tough game. When the big teams come to town you can expect a full bet365 Stadium even more so now as the new look stadium has a capacity of 30,089. However, with growth needs to come progression and that’s a big target for this season. Gone are the days of the long throw with a more attractive style of football being played. The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Jese Rodriguez and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting have all demonstrated this in recent games for the Potters.

The Manager

Under a lot of criticism from fans for the shambolic season last year, Mark Hughes should feel as this is his last chance at Stoke. Things look to be heading in the right direction for him as he’s been able to rebuild his squad with the backing of the Chairman Peter Coates. The caliber of player Hughes can attract has always pleased the Stoke fans, but the loss of Bojan Krkic to Deportivo Alavés and Marc Muniesa to SD Eibar have divided the opinion of the fans. You can expect a rallying call from Hughes in his press conference as he always urges the fans to get behind the team from the first minute to the last. A familiar face for the United fans who some will remember, but that will go out the window for Hughes as he pushes for a win at the weekend.

One’s To Watch

Ramadan Sobhi has Stoke fans talking after an impressive cup appearance against Rochdale scoring a sublime goal after rounding the keeper. The 20-year-old Egyptian winger signed for Stoke City in 2016 for £5 million and has produced moments of brilliance already when given an opportunity. He could get his first start of the season on Saturday with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting out injured. However, he may have to wait for his chance from the bench if Hughes prefers Jese Rodriguez to play on the left. A player with a bright future ahead.

He had the Manchester City defence on strings last season as he continued to grow and progress, but has found himself out of favour with Mark Hughes who has urged the youngster to forget about his wedding over the summer and concentrate on his football. Rodriguez has burst onto the scene with a bang after completing his loan move from Paris Saint-Germain in this rather misleading transfer window. With the 24-year-old having scored his first goal for the potters against Arsenal and a decent performance against West Bromwich Albion, the fans could see him get a goal for Stoke on Saturday or at least cause the United defence a problem.

Predicted Starting XI

Match Prediction

Having started the season well and with Stoke being a team with a reputation for an upset this could be an interesting game. However with the form of Nemanja Matić and Romelu Lukaku, I can see United taking the victory in this one, but it won’t be easy. Having won 4-0 in the first two games and 2-0 against Leicester I’d be hoping that United don’t think this game is already won, as we have got the quality to beat anyone on our day. My prediction is Stoke 1-3 Manchester United.

Written by Jordan Roberts  

copyright: JW