After our Champions League win over Bursaspor on Wednesday, Manchester United travel to the Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City; this Sunday. After the media saturation of the Rooney saga, this week, it`ll be great to get back to the real business of playing.
The Stoke City manager is off the belief that the coup Sir Alex Ferguson pulled off by getting Rooney to put pen to paper on a five year deal after apparently having set his mind on leaving, will give United the massive boost they need to reclaim the Premier League title from Chelsea, when he remarked ahead of the game,
“This will give them a hell of a lift and get everyone`s feet on the ground again at Old Trafford.”
“There is always a turning point, whether it is good or bad – this could be the one for United.”
“If they win the title this season, this could be the moment they look back on and realise it was where it all changed.”
One would like to think so!
Stoke Team News:
Tony Pulis takes his side into this encounter without the suspended Whitehead whilst he`ll also be without the injured Sidibe whilst Fuller remains a doubt with a shoulder injury.
Player to watch: Ryan Shawcross
Once on the books of United this no-nonsense defender has started to carve out quite a reputation as a defender quite capable of breaking into the international side, definitely one to watch.
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson goes into this fixture without Wayne Rooney with the striker being side-lined by an ankle injury for the next three weeks. Also out are Valencia (ankle), Evans (groin), Giggs (hamstring), Hargreaves (calf) and Owen (groin).
It`s expected that Berbatov and Van der Sar will be recalled after missing out on the 1-0 victory, over Bursaspor, in midweek.
Player to watch: Dimitar Berbaotv
It`ll certainly be interesting to see how Dimitar handles what will be a physical and rugged Stoke defence.
Match Facts & Stats
United`s record is pretty decent at Stoke with United having won 5 of the last 7 fixtures there. In fact you have to go back to 1984 for the last time Stoke beat Manchester United in the league.
On the downside though, it could be significant that United have only won once, away from home, in six attempts, following a Champions League fixture.
Our officials tomorrow are Andre Marriner (referee), Mike Cairns and Martin Yerby (assistants) and Mike Jones (fourth official).
Our penchant for conceding goals worries me! Last weekend it was West Bromwich Albion, previous fixtures have seen us capitulate at Goodison Park and Craven Cottage. Those defensive lapses need ironing out and with Rory Delap set to hurl in some dangerous long throws we`ll need to be at our defensive best. It promises to be a tight game but a game that United can win, although it could well be by the odd goal in three.
Next up is a Carling Cup fixture against Wolves followed by a Premier League fixture against Spurs.