Manchester United will be looking to extend their unbeaten record in this Premier League campaign as they travel to Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City this Saturday.
3 games, 10 goals, 0 conceded. Even though United boss Mourinho and his men refused to be overconfident, It must be all smiles at the United camp after making an exceptional start to the campaign.
However, this weekend will see United face their first major challenge of the season as they travel to Stoke for their second away match of the season.
Last season saw United’s unbeaten 3 match streak broken by Manchester City after the international break , after which United never entered the Top 3 for the rest of the season.
It’s all about maintaining the momentum they created in their opening fixtures and to ensure they get a result from the difficult trip away from home. Victory this weekend would further enhance
United’s title credentials, and Jose will be hoping their 100% record will be maintained by the end of this week.
Up against the club from Old Trafford is a potentially dangerous opponent in Stoke. Stoke has had a mixed started to the 2017-18 campaign, having lost 1, won 1 and drawn 1 in their opening 3 fixtures against Everton, Arsenal and West Brom respectively.
Stoke has proved time and again that they are well capable of upsetting a title contender, as seen with their match against Arsenal, and Stoke Boss Mark Hughes will be hoping that his team would replicate the performances against his former employers.
Stoke are extremely capable of causing an upset, at least on paper, as they have 5 Champions League winners in the squad including the likes of new addition Jese Rodriguez and Xhadran Shaqiri.
Early Team News :
Manchester United :
Mourinho will be particularly pleased that there are no fresh injury concerns after the international break, which has so often been the case for United in recent times. It’s highly likely Mourinho will keep his starting XI in place for their match against the Potters.
Luke Shaw and Ashley are in contention for a spot in the travelling squad after they both featured heavily in U-23 matches as they aim to make a comeback from their respective injuries. However, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will continue to be sidelined for some time.
Stoke City :
Darren Fletcher and Mame Diouf , who were injured recently with knee problems, could recover in time to feature against their old club even though it is doubtful that Stoke boss Hughes would want to risk their fitness by rushing them in.
Summer signing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury, while the same is expected of Ibrahim Afellay as he recovers from a knee injury. Stoke’s 18 million summer signing from Tottenham Kevin Wimmer is expected to make his debut this weekend.
Predicted Line Up and formation :
Manchester United : David de Gea(GK), Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku.
Formation : 4-2-3-1
Stoke City : Jack Butland(GK) , Kurt Zouma, Ryan Shawcross, Kevin Wimmer, Mame Diouf, Darren Fletcher, Joe Allen, Pieters, Xhadran Shaqiri, Jese Rodriguez, Berahino
Formation : 4-4-2 wide or 4-3-3
Battle to watch out for : Rashford/Martial vs Zouma :
The key battle that would be in the spotlight would be Rashford or Martial vs Kurt Zouma. Three of the brightest talents in the Premier League today, Stoke’s hopes of beating United would primarily depend on how well Zouma cope up with the attacking threat from Rashford and Martial, from wide regions.
The two teams had previously met 106 times prior to Saturday’s fixture. United has won 43 of them, while Stoke emerged victorious on 28 occasions.
The remaining fixtures resulted in a draw. United’s recent record against the Potters is very much impressive though, having won 12 out of the 18 times they faced in the Premier League since Stoke’s promotion in 2008.
Last meeting :
The last time the two clubs met was back in January, where the fixture ended in a 1-1 draw. Wayne Rooney’s brilliant last free kick cancelled out Juan Mata’s own goal in a tight fixture.
The match was also an historic moment as far as Manchester United and Wayne Rooney was concerned as United’s former No.10’s strike took him to 250 goals for the club, breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s 43 year old record of scoring most number of goals for United.
Although United doesn’t have the best of records at the Bet365 Stadium over the last couple of seasons, United should be able to stretch their perfect start to the campaign. But it’s not going to be an easy task at all.
Bet365 Stadium is probably one of the most toughest grounds in UK to play in for an away team and Stoke will be keen to upset another title contender , having already defeated Arsenal a couple of weeks ago. A draw isn’t an unlikely result either, with both the fixtures last season resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Betting odds (via bet365)
Man Utd : 9/20
Stoke to win: 13/2