Manchester United continued their unbeaten run with a 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday and while the result was not necessarily the worst in the world, the Red Devils were left with a bitter taste as they had created enough chances throughout the game to be able to claim a victory.
Manager Louis van Gaal was disappointed that his side were unable to grab all three points on the day and will be demanding his players to put things right when they square off against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on New Years’ Day.
However, it is common knowledge that Stoke are one of the most difficult sides to play against away from home and the match will be anything but a straightforward stroll for the Red Devils, despite their very good run of form.
Here is the Strongest Possible Lineup for Manchester United on the day –
David De Gea for once had to take a back seat as it was Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who stole the limelight on Sunday with a fantastic performance.
Nonetheless, the clean sheet would have pleased De Gea and he will now have to perform very well once again if he is to deny the physical Stoke City side from scoring.
Apart from Stoke’s physical prowess, players such as Bojan and Mame Diouf are capable of producing magic and the Spaniard will have to be on his guard throughout the match.
With United having performed so well in their 3-5-2 system against Tottenham, van Gaal is unlikely to change things around for the clash against Stoke City on Thursday.
This means that a three man central defence should feature once again and the most likely candidate to fill in the positions at the heart of the backline will be Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling while Paddy McNair will also be in contention.
Ashley Young impressed once again in the left wing back role and despite the return of Luke Shaw to full fitness, the winger should retain his place in the starting lineup.
On the opposite flank there could be a change though, as Antonio Valencia was forced off at half time against Tottenham and his place could be taken by the fit again Rafael for Thursday’s clash. Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind remain out with injuries.
The midfield trio of Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata performed very well once again against Tottenham and had created a lot of chances for their strikers.
While it would not be a surprise to see the three line up against Stoke as well, van Gaal will be pondering rotating things around – especially after vehemently complaining of fixture congestion over the festive period.
This could well mean that Ander Hererra will slot in at midfield in place of Michael Carrick while Darren Fletcher will also be in contention.
With Angel Di Maria still short of match fitness, Juan Mata will start once again and will be working in tandem with Wayne Rooney to create opportunities for the strikers.
The duo of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao were unable to build on their wonderful performance against Newcastle and were disappointing at White Hart Lane last time out.
Despite being handed a host of chances, both van Persie and Falcao could not convert and the profligacy in attack certainly cost the Red Devils dear.
However, strikers do have such days at the office and van Gaal will probably have faith in the strike duo – to hand them a start once again on Thursday. James Wilson will be waiting in the wings if indeed van Gaal decides to change things around.
Via – Lineup Builder