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Manchester United vs Stoke City: Preview, TV Channel Info, Team News, Prediction

Manchester United welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford in the Premier League as they look to improve on their recent EPL performances

martial rooney
Martial and Rooney need to continue their good run of form

Tonight witnesses an inconsistent Manchester United side return to Old Trafford to host a Stoke City side who have had a mixed week – though they’ve been knocked out of both the domestic cup competitions in the space of four days, they’ve broken their transfer record by splurging £18.3m on defensive-midfielder Giannelli Imbula from FC Porto.

United embarrassingly slipped to a 0-1 defeat to Southampton the last time they played at the Theatre of Dreams, thanks to a goal from debutant Charlie Austin. They currently lie fifth in the table, five points off fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

However, they will seek to carry their motivation from Friday’s 3-1 victory at Derby in the FA Cup to this important fixture. But with a resurgent Potters in town, can Louis van Gaal lift the pressure off his shoulders by getting all 3 points?

Kick-Off and Live Telecast

Channel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD 1

Live Stream: www.starsports.com

Kick-Off: Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 – 0130 IST (Tuesday, 2nd February – 2000 BST)

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester United

Team News

Manchester United are set to give Michael Carrick a starting place following a month-long layoff. However, Bastian Schweinsteiger continues to be sidelined through knee injury. Matteo Darmian has recovered from the rib injury he sustained at Southampton but is unlikely to start. Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are long-term absentees from the squad.

Stoke City’s new signing Giannelli Imbula is set to make an appearance from the bench following a club-record transfer from FC Porto. Marc Wilson is ruled out for the next 3 months following a knee injury. Captain Ryan Shawcross has made a recovery from a back injury but will not feature.

Team Form

Manchester United’s return to form in January has been shadowed by a confidence debilitating 0-1 reverse at home to Southampton, a result which prompted a series of abuses from fans towards manager Louis van Gaal and cries towards the Old Trafford director’s box to relieve the Dutchman of his duties. If a lack of attacking intent wasn’t enough to anger the Old Trafford faithful, then a fatal error at the back to concede the decisive goal was enough evidence that the fans had a point in calling for Van Gaal’s sacking.

However, he managed to turn that around against Championship side Derby County with an impressive 3-1 victory, where all 3 goals were actual Manchester United quality. But with top-half Premier League opposition waiting on Tuesday, the challenge is immense for the Dutchman to inspire his side to repeat the performance.

The form of Anthony Martial – who was nearly untouchable in the FA Cup game – will be critical for Van Gaal’s chances to get all three points. With Michael Carrick back in midfield, fans can expect a more purposeful passing game from their side. With a 2-0 defeat between the sides on Boxing Day lingering over their minds, will they be able to restore parity against the Potters?

Last 5 games (All Competitions) : W-L-W-D-W ( Most Recent – Derby County 1-3 Manchester United)

Stoke City will be deflated by their elimination from two cup competitions within a span of four days. A 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Leicester City in their last Premier League outing has also seen them lose star defender Shawcross to injury for the second time this season.

His absence was felt by the back-line, who were being opened up by the Foxes almost at will. Phillip Wollscheid and Marc Muniesa would have worked on their defensive organisation on the training ground, and it is absolutely imperative that the duo communicate at the back to foil any Manchester United attacks.

A victory over the Red Devils on their own turf – something they haven’t managed at all since their promotion to the Premier League in 2008 – will help them see some green in their mini-barren run they are suffering at the moment. With United short of full-backs, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri must seize this opportunity to put Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson through their paces.

They have the potential, but can the Potters employ their tactics on the field with as much effect as they did during training in order to complete a famous double over Manchester United?

Last 5 games (All Competitions) : L-W*-L-D-W ( Most Recent – Crystal Palace 1-0 Stoke City)

*Stoke City lost to Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final penalty shootout despite winning the game 1-0 after extra-time

Predicted Starting Line-ups

Key Stats

Head-to-Head

  1. Stoke City have lost all their 7 league games at Old Trafford since their promotion to the top-tier in 2008.
  2. However, they have won 2 out of the last 4 league meetings. (D1, L1)

Manchester United

  1. Manchester United have won just one out of their last 5 league games at Old Trafford. (D2, L2)
  2. They have scored just 12 times in 11 home fixtures in the League this season – the second worst in the division.
  3. However, they have conceded just 5 times at Old Trafford and have kept a league-high 11 clean-sheets this season.
  4. Wayne Rooney has scored 6 goals in as many games since the turn of the year.

Stoke City

  1. The Potters have lost their last three away games in all competitions – including a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace which saw them crash out of the FA Cup.
  2. This will be Mark Hughes’ 100th league game in charge of Stoke City. The former Manchester United striker has lost on his last 8 visits to Old Trafford.

Key Battle

Anthony Martial vs Glen Johnson

Glen Johnson would have seen Anthony Martial’s domination of Derby’s right-back Cyrus Christie in the FA Cup game on Friday – a performance which ultimately sent poor Christie to the floor. The veteran fullback must thus use all his experience to neutralise the fleet-footed 20-year old’s threat and stop him from approaching the bye-line to get a cross in.

Guillermo Varela vs Marko Arnautovic and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson vs Xherdan Shaqiri

Manchester United’s shortage of full-backs was not entirely felt by the squad as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela seemed to cope with the pressure of the Derby County wingers very well on Friday. But this time, it is Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri occupying the wing positions.

Dealing with the duo will be a massive test. However, Varela and Borthwick-Jackson have been in the first team for quite a while now and should be able to be on the same page as their counterpart wingers. 

Prediction

Manchester United 2-1 Stoke City

The absence of Ryan Shawcross at the back provides Manchester United just that extra edge when it comes to the probability of both teams to break opposition defences apart. Thus, a narrow Manchester United victory seems to be the most plausible prediction going into tonight’s crunch fixture at Old Trafford.

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