One win and just five points in their last 13 Premier League matches paints a gut wrenching picture for Stoke’s supporters. With the club now on high alert after slipping to within three points of the relegation zone the pressure is firmly on manager Tony Pulis to escort his side to safety. Sadly for the Potters it’s difficult to see where their next victory will come from. Manchester United descend from their throne at the top for a visit to the Britannia Stadium and even with home advantage on their side they will undoubtedly be classed as underdogs. And rightly so after a dismaying home display last week in which they more or less relinquished the game to Aston Villa without so much as a whimper. That isn’t the Stoke we’ve all come to dread playing against and Pulis has a monumental task on his hands to dig them out of this rut.
Unfortunately for Stoke they come up against a United side spoiling after their derby defeat at home to Manchester City on Monday. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men lost out to their local adversaries for the second season running at Old Trafford but despite losing the battle they can solace in the knowledge that they are close to winning the war. The loss only put a minor dent in the Red Devils’ lead at the top-flight summit with their advantage now standing at 12-points. That should rise to 15 once again with City contesting an FA Cup semi final and United recording eight victories in their last nine meetings with the Potters. One more and their title grip with grow even firmer.
Matthew Etherington (back) and defender Marc Wilson (back/hamstring) will be assessed before kick-off by Stoke after being forced off in last weeks clash with Aston Villa. Glenn Whelan is back in training and could feature.
Ashley Young hurt his ankle in Monday’s Manchester derby with City and is out for two weeks. Captain Nemanja Vidic (calf) was back in training on Friday, while Jonny Evans is available after missing the last two games with a hamstring strain.
What the managers said…
“We have got targets. He was one that was mentioned, but whether we do any business or not we shall have to see. We have been monitoring four or five players in Europe and if our staff are watching players, then it’s important I follow it up. I went abroad Sunday when it was cold and I got covered in snow, which is why I’m feeling the way I am.” Tony Pulis dismissed speculation over his future at Stoke (This is Staffordshire)
“If you look at our history over the years we always make it difficult for ourselves. The supporters are hanging on the edge of their seats every year. It is a 12-point lead, we go to Stoke at the weekend and we will have a go.” Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United won’t succumb to complacency (BBC Sport)
Pre-Match Statistic: Manchester United have netted 27 Premier League goals in the opening 30 minutes of games – Stoke have managed just 28 all season.
Prediction: Stoke City 0-2 Manchester United