Stoke City v Manchester United – Key Battles

The pressure on David Moyes to win a trophy in his first season as Manchester United boss is perhaps greater than the other managers left in the Capital One Cup.

He hasn’t started life at Old Trafford particularly well, but he will target the Capital One Cup as the perfect opportunity to silence his critics and hopefully start his United career as he means to go on.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes, on the other hand, may have the Premier League as his priority during his first season as Potters boss. However, that’s not to say he will pass up the opportunity to beat his old club and progress to the semi-finals.

The success of either club in this Round 5 tie will be partly down to the side in which the managers choose to play. There may be a few rested players watching from the sidelines, but you can bet both Hughes and Moyes will be going all out for victory.

Steven N’Zonzi v Marouane Fellaini 

N’Zonzi appears to be benefiting from Hughes’ style of football compared to Tony Pulis’ so-called route one approach.  His stand out performances for the Potters this season have shown how important he can be in the heart of midfield and he should relish the opportunity of going head-to-head with a player who is yet to make his mark at United.

Fellaini’s exploits at Everton last season earned him a mega-money move to United in the summer, but he hasn’t won over the Old Trafford so far this season and he will want a match-winning performance to show the fans and Moyes that he is the right man for the job.

Erik Pieters v Wilfried Zaha

Pieters has had a good start to life in the Premier League since his £3million move from PSV Eindhoven in the summer. The Dutch international enjoys getting forward as often as possible, but he may not be able to do much of that if he comes up against Zaha.

The England U21 forward is itching for a chance to show Moyes what he’s capable of and is expected to get his chance in the Capital One Cup. On his day, Zaha can be a lethal attacking threat and he has the ability to run defenders ragged, so Pieters will have a job on his hands keeping him quiet.

Kenwyne Jones v Chris Smalling

Jones has scored four goals in his two Capital One Cup appearances this season and will be hungry to add to that total at the Britannia if he gets the nod. He’ll also be hoping that another goal in this competition may persuade Hughes to play him more often in the league, with Peter Crouch preferred more often than not at the moment.

Chris Smalling is beginning to get more game time under David Moyes and has impressed in his 13 appearances in all competitions so far this campaign. His contribution against Stoke will be vital to United’s chances of progression and he will need to keep Jones under wraps if he is to continue what has been a successful start to the season for him.

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