Stoke City v Manchester United – Match Preview

Stoke City have the unenviable task of halting Manchester United as the Premier League leaders prepare to descend on the Brittania Stadium looking to maintain their unbeaten start.

Tony Pulis’ side have started the season in stellar fashion and were unbeaten in their first four games until they travelled to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland last week. A tired performance contributed to a disappointing 4-0 defeat that came off the back of a very positive Europa League game in Kiev just three days prior. Despite that loss and their strong start to the campaign there is a problem up front for the Potters. They’ve scored only three goals so far and Peter Crouch looked increasingly isolated up front against the Black Cats last Sunday. With a hoard of striking options at his disposal Pulis may opt to shuffle his front line with Cameron Jerome and Jon Walters pushing to start against the Red Devils. The latter struck the winner against Liverpool in their last home game could keep his place at the expense despite a lacklustre display in North East. Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Upson could be recalled with the latter putting in a man of the match display against Tottenham in the midweek Carling Cup game. They’ll need his experience if they are to end a run that has seen them come out on the losing side in ever top flight game against United.

A 100% start to the season as seen Sir Alex Ferguson’s side quickly rise to the Premier League summit. The irresistible form of Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young’s splendid wing play and Phil Jones’ sturdiness in defence have been the hallmarks of a storming start to the campaign. Rooney, in particular, is going through an extraordinary renaissance scoring nine goals already and reaffirming himself as the darling of English football. The signings of Young, Jones and David de Gea have provided an injection of youth to compliment the seasoned professionals already in the ranks and the blend has proved to be devastating to a number of teams already. Chelsea were on there receiving end last week as United put them to the sword in a 3-1 win before a patchwork eleven dispatched Leeds in the Carling Cup with Dimitar Berbatov appearing at centre back. Confidence is soaring at Old Trafford and with Rooney also purring alongside the young guns the unbeaten start looks likely to continue against Stoke.

Ferguson could welcome back Rio Ferdinand whilst Javier Hernandez could play some part after being on the receiving end of a nasty tackle from Ashley Cole last week.

Hosts Stoke are without Kenwyne Jones who picked up a hamstring injury in midweek.

Key Players

Ryan Shawcross – A tower of strength in the Potters defence the former Red Devil will be vital in Stokes effort to bring a halt to United’s blistering start to the season. He’ll need to be at the top of his game to stop Rooney and co.

Wayne Rooney  – Nine goals already this season has seen the England striker playing football with a smile on his face one again. Despite taking all the headlines for his goals he still runs himself into the ground for his side and will pose the biggest danger to Stoke.

Verdict: 0-4

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