After the enforced international break the Premier League season, for Manchester United, gets back on schedule with a visit from Stoke City. Now normally you`d expect United to take three points from this game but the events of this season, especially on the road, have taught us not to take anything for granted. But I`d probably not be alone in thinking it is a game we must win if we have serious ambition of wrestling that Premier League crown back from Manchester City.
Sir Alex Ferguson could well have upset the apple-cart with a couple of lovely quotes attributed to him in the build up t the clash with Stoke City.
Sir Alex is quoted a shaving remarked about our opponents,
“The jolly green giants are coming to play against us tomorrow.”
“Michael Owen isn`t allowed to play unless she brings a ladder.”
Has he just provided Stoke with the perfect incentive to come and do a job?
Manchester United Team News:
There appears to be light at the end of the injury tunnel.
Recent reports indicate that Sir Alex Ferguson could well have Ashley Young back but Chris Smalling is not quite ready for this fixture, couple that with the news that Phil Jones isn`t that far away from returning and those injury problems that have haunted us this season could be decreasing, even more so with Darren Fletcher back into the swing of things as well.
But, unfortunately for us, Nemanja Vidic remains on the side-lines and there must be doubts about the fitness of Anders Lindegaard with the keeper having returned from international duty, without playing, having felt a twinge on the same ankle that kept him side-lined for periods of last season.
With a Champions League fixture to follow, in midweek, could Sir Alex Ferguson be set to juggle his resources to get the results he wants in both games?
Player to watch: Robin Van Persie
Although we`re entering a busy period when it comes to fixtures, you get the feeling the Dutch striker is an untouchable and as long as he is fit he`ll start. We`re looking for RVP to hit the net against Stoke as he continues to adjust to life at United.
Stoke City Team News:
Tony Pulis brings his side to Old Trafford welcoming back Andy Wilkinson after the player completed his suspension but could be without Glenn Whelan who has a hamstring problem.
Michael Owen could make the bench after being troubled with a groin strain in recent days.
Player to watch: Michael Owen
Surely it couldn`t happen could it? After choosing not to renew his contract at the end of the season, could Michael Owen return to Old Trafford and carry out the ultimate revenge by scoring the winner for Stoke City? Never discount anything in this strange game of ours!
Match Facts & Stats
Stoke`s record at Old Trafford is pretty poor in recent times. They`ve not won at Old Trafford since 1976 with United winning their last eight home league games, with two handsome victories amongst them, a 5-0 and a 4-0 thrashing,
Last season it took penalty kicks to secure the points, let`s hope things are a little easier on Saturday.
Taking charge of this match will be A. Taylor, ably assisted by D. Cann and S. Long with M. Halsey taking the role on of fourth official.
Could Stoke arrive at Old Trafford and create an upset? Possibly! But will Stoke City arrive at Old Trafford and create an upset? No!
Although there are no easy games and Tony Pulis will ensure his side give a disciplined display, you can`t see anything other than a win for Manchester United in this one, can you?
I`m going for 3-1 to United.
We`re in Champions League action in midweek, playing the Portuguese side Braga, before heading off to Stamford Bridge next weekend to take on a revitalized Chelsea side.