LAST 5 EPL GAMES:
Stoke City: LWWDW
Manchester United: DDDWD
Sir Alex Ferguson has his work cut out for him. Sitting 8 points back of Chelsea following their 2-0 win over Wolverhampton, United can't afford to give any more points away anytime soon. Injuries to Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Jonny Evans have all been ruled out, while an appearance from Owen Hargreaves appears unlikely. For United to win, they've got to find that spark that's been missing most of the season. Dimitar Berbatov has been unused since a substitute appearance 3 weeks ago against Sunderland and he'll be looking to get back in the swing of things as United head into a difficult stretch of their schedule.
Tony Pulis has built himself a nice mid-table squad in his 5 years at Stoke City. Over the past few years, he's brought in players such as former United younger Ryan Shawcross, Thomas Sorensen, Matthew Etherington, Eidur Gudjohnsen and securing a loan for Jermaine Pennant. He also has the services of one Rory Delap, whose long, arching throw-ins have become the stuff of legend at the Brittania.
Here's a few bullet points, borrowed from the above sources:
- Stoke City last beat United in the EPL on Boxing Day, 1984 (BBC)
- Stoke scored just 2 goals and allowed 20 in six matches versus Arsenal, Chelsea and United (BBC)
- United have won just 1 of their last 6 EPL games on the road following a midweek Champions League fixture (BBC)
- United are unbeaten in their last 13 EPL games, including 9 games on the road (Daily Mail)
POSSIBLE STARTING XI:
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Stay tuned throughout the day, I'll be adding updates as I see them.