The Stoke City vs Manchester United match will take place this Saturday, February 1, 2014 (7:00 AM Pacific, 15:00 GMT). United visit the Britannia stadium for a second time this season, and while most games have always been very tight here, they actually haven’t lost to Stoke since 1993.
The Eric Effect
It’s true that one player’s arrival in January can spark something in a team that are looking forlorn and out of sorts. In 1993, when Eric Cantona arrived, United were looking toothless and out of it, by May they had stormed to their first League success in 26 years.
While nobody can deny that Juan Mata has certainly created a feeling of optimism around Old Trafford among staff and players, this must also be measured against the fact that Rooney and Van Persie are both back to full fitness. These three players hold the key to any chance of success for United this year. Success will now be measured in terms of a Champions League run and a top 4 finish.
With Everton and Tottenham both getting badly found out at the weekend, United usually power on at this time of year and everything looks to be in place for that to be able to happen again. First things first though, Stoke need to be dealt with.
With Stoke letting Kenwynne Jones go to Cardiff, they have taken the controversial figure of Peter Odemwingie in exchange (as well as money of course). Odemwingie will rightly be remembered for his shambolic attempts at engineering a move to QPR a few years ago, but he will be keen to reignite his career at Stoke and he could start.
Stoke City Team News
Stoke find themselves just three points and two places above the relegation zone and will need to start picking up more points at home. In previous years they have always made things very difficult for sides coming to the Brittania, this season, however, they look a shadow of the side that Tony Pulis worked so hard to build.
Hughes will need to find a way to quell the threat of the array of attacking talent that United have just got back in their team, and you would expect him to go with one upfront and five across the middle to try to stifle any attempts at creativity by Mata, who will no doubt be given a free role. They will be without Steven Nzonzi, who serves his one match ban after being red carded against Sunderland.
Manchester United Team News
United can now boast the cleanest bill of health they have had for some time, yes Carrick, Vidic and Ferdinand are all out, but the fact that they have welcomed back Rooney and Van Persie at the same time as Mata arriving, means that they must be feeling very confident going into this game. All three must start as United look to go on a run to get a chance at a Champions League place. With Fulham up next and then a trip to the Emirates, the next few weeks are going to prove very important.
Stoke City vs Manchester United Prediction
The feel good factor around Manchester United is such, that it is really hard to see anything other than a win. In 11 Premier League meetings, Stoke have managed only 1 point. History is likely to repeat itself here and you would think that if Moyes fields all of his best players at the same time, United could walk it. Prediction: Stoke City 0 – 3 Manchester United.
Stoke City vs Manchester United Television
The match will be televised on NBC Sports Network (USA), and MUTV Online.