Match Preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester United

This weekend sees Manchester United travel to the Potteries for the next fixture in the Premier League, the reverse game saw a form changing 1-1 draw.

José Mourinho’s side lie two points behind rivals, 5th placed, Manchester City. Following their 1-1 draw with Liverpool last week, Mourinho will be looking to take maximum points at the bet365 arena on Saturday.

The 1-1 draw was an occasion. The day we discovered what Grant could do, another Allen goal and the start of the end of Stoke’s early season slump. It also took a toll on Mourinho’s men, that started a drop in form and caused the Red Devils to lose 4-0 to Chelsea began a winless month.

Stoke are coming into this match off the back of an emphatic 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light. An impressive performance from Marko got him selected for FIFA’s TOTW. Shaqiri had a great game, showing off some of his old skills as well.

Crouch also got a goal, which makes the upcoming match even more interesting. Two experienced target men will most likely be playing. Both are 35, both have played at international level and both are in great form. Zlatan has scored 5 in the last 5 EPL matches, and Crouch has scored several times in his recent run of games. It will be interesting to see how Stoke and United use these two.

Manchester United are performing well away from home this season. With averaging 2 points per away game, they are definitely racking up the points on the road. They’ve had the tendency to win games if they are leading by half-time. If we can control the first half well, we could be looking at a positive result. Shawcross will be looking to finally stop people talking about that Swedish goal from 2012, one that he said ruining his international career. The defence looked weak towards the end of last week’s match. I personally felt anxious every time Sunderland got the ball for a counter. Too many long balls got behind the midfield and we were left open many times with one or two defenders back.

Pogba had a day to forget, after conceding a penalty and having a scuffle with Henderson, his performance last week was dire. Pogba is the type of player who can dictate a game. If he plays as well as he should, he can win all three points for Utd. Hughes will need to make sure Pogba is out of the game. I’d love to see Whelan be the man to stop him. He is the type of player who tracks back, grabs the ball and runs. He grinds out a performance and holds the determination to go against a quality, although overrated, player like Pogba. It’s also possible to have Allen back in CDM to collect balls and begin a counter. However, with Bojan definitely ruled out and after last week’s match, we will probably see him start in CAM, behind Crouch.

That being said, a lot of Stoke fans, including myself, would love to see Afellay start. Now he’s back and has been brought on a few times, give him a run. This would allow for an Allen & Whelan midfield. In my opinion the best hope we have against the likes of Pogba, Mata, Rooney and Herrera.

I’m expecting Mark to field an unchanged line-up, but hoping Afellay starts behind Crouch. Mark should look to utilise the wings for build-up play and then either cross the ball into Crouch or let Marko and Shaq cut in and play through the centre. If they play like last week, then we may have a chance of grabbing the result.

I’m going into this game hoping for a draw. I know we can win this on our day but how many good days to United to have recently compared to us.

Crouch will be looking to score his 100th PL goal this weekend and what a game to score it in. I’m hoping to see the famous robot moves on Saturday and I’m sure you are too.

Written by Benito Fisher

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