It’s a big day at Old Trafford, as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side seek to finally cement themselves as a team with title challenging credentials for this season.
Their opponents are a Stoke City outfit who have failed to really get going, currently sitting down in 19th place, on just 2 points. Today is a highly important game for both sides.
No fresh injury woes blight either squad, meaning that both sides have virtually everybody available. United anxiously await the return of Henrikh Mkhitarayan, who is doubtful to play todat, while Stoke are still without long-term absentees Stephen Ireland, Ibrahim Affelay and Jack Butland.
After bouncing back from a defeat to Watford with a superb 4-1 victory over defending champions Leicester City, United will not be short of confidence heading into this clash.
Wayne Rooney looks likely to feature on the substitute’s bench again, with Juan Mata being preferred to start in behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
For Stoke City, Wilfried Bony will lead the line up front, and needs to make an impression today. Currently, Stoke have no players that have scored more than once so far, this season.
Arnautovic and Shaqiri seem likely to start in the wide positions just behind Bony. For all their talent, it’s baffling to me that Stoke aren’t in a better position this season, and their fans must be hoping that their players start fulfilling their undoubted potential.
Victory for the home side today could, other results permitting, send them up to 2nd place and perhaps solidify them as the top contenders to the clear favourites to take this season’s Premier League title, Manchester City. United need a win today.
A win for Stoke would not come with quite so glamorous consequences, but it would ensure that they jump out of the relegation zone. An important step in setting them on their way for the season, Mark Hughes will anxious to clear that hurdle as soon as possible.
The result may be fairly straightforward on paper, but as the much-used saying goes, football isn’t played on paper. Both teams will be highly motivated to clinch a result today, which should make for entertaining viewing.