Manchester United Preview
Stoke’s search for their first league win goes on and the latest installment is a trip to Old Trafford, a place Stoke last won at in 1976, so pencil this one in as a certain Stoke victory. Mourinho’s side appear to have re-found their feet and are looking strong again. The Potters will be hoping that United’s Thursday night fixture, where a strong XI played nearly the full fixture, will have tired the legs of the ‘red devils’. If a positive result is to be gained two things will be essential. First, Marko Arnautovic, who is celebrating his 100th game for Stoke, will be pivotal to all of Stoke’s attacking play, as the mercurial Austrian was last season. Secondly, the defense, who are seeking their first clean sheet since March, will need to provide a solid base and nullify all of United’s vast attacking threats. The clash sees Ryan Shawcross line up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the man who ended Shawcross’ international career before it had even started, and the Stoke captain will surely be looking for revenge.
Kick Off: Tomorrow @ 12:00, available live on BT Sport
Odds (as of 14:00 Saturday): Manchester United 1/3, Draw 9/2, Stoke 19/2
Last Time Out: Manchester United 3 Stoke City 0
The Opposition – WWWLL
United have a near full strength squad heading into the match, with Phil Jones the only absentee. Both Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are expected to be available after missing out several of United’s last matches. Wayne Rooney has taken up more than his fair share of back page columns as the debate as to whether to drop the England Captain continues.
Stoke – DLLLL
Joe Allen is a serious doubt for the game as he did not train during the week due to a tightness in his hamstring suffered in the West Brom match. Jack Butland is expected to return to training next week, so obviously will not be included on Sunday. Jon Walters has returned to fitness but it is unclear whether he will be awarded a spot on the bench after two especially poor performances this season. Another question lingers over Ramadan Sobhi who did not make the bench against the ‘Baggies’ despite his MOTM performance against Hull in the cup.
Predicted Starting XI (4231): Grant; Johnson, Shawcross, Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Cameron; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Bony
Ones to Watch
Marcus Rashford – The young forward appears to be able to do no wrong, and simply goes from strength to strength. The pace and clinical finishing nature are something that will worry Stoke’s defense just as much as it worries fans. If a similar performance to United’s City rivals is given by Stoke there will be no reason Rashford cannot secure a brace or hat trick.
Marko Arnautovic – This match will be Arnie’s 100th for the club and coming at the ‘theater of dreams’ there is a somewhat poetic feel about the clash. Arnie’s first City goal came at Old Trafford and it epitomized his character and Stoke career. After lashing home a beautiful free kick, certainly one of the best I have seen for Stoke, the Austrian celebrated by telling his team mates to calm down. During this recent poor period Arnautovic has been showing signs of maturity, desire and leadership, and it would be perfect for this to be rewarded with a good result on Sunday.
Tom: 3-4 Stoke
Ben: United 2-0
Joe: 1-2 Stoke
Written by Tom Thrower
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