It`s crunch time! If we are to win a fourth consecutive title we need Wigan to do us a big, big favour and take something off of Chelsea. Otherwise, our season will end in a damp squib whilst the cockneys celebrate, perish the thought! Oh! I nearly forgot to mention that Stoke are our opposition!
All week we`ve been treated to inquisitions as to where it has, apparently, gone wrong and we`re not in the driving seat. Sunday will be a surreal experience with ears anxiously pressed to radio`s awaiting any news from the other game down in London, our keeper, Edwin van der Sar, sums it up perfectly when he remarks,
“It is very strange. In the last three years we have been in command. Now we have to wait.”
“It is going to be difficult. We have lost a lot of games this year but we are still in there. Hopefully Wigan will go for it on Sunday and we will hear some positive news.”
United Team News:
With there still being a chance of Sunday ending as a glorious day, the expectations are that Sir Alex will field his strongest available line-up, after all it`d be churlish not to when we`re all praying that Chelsea slip up.
Rio Ferdinand may not make the starting eleven despite his twenty-seven minute spell of action in a recent testimonial with Sir Alex preferring to stick with Vidic and Evans. In midfield, we suspect that Scholes and Giggs will get the nod, knowing how highly Sir Alex values experience and Rooney is certain to start, despite appearing to have been struck with several niggling injuries in recent weeks.
Whether Berbatov will be played alongside him or not remains to be seen. His wayward finishing, against Sunderland, may prompt Sir Alex to opt for another option, although with Owen out injured the options appear limited.
Injuries – Anderson, Owen and Valencia
Suspensions – None
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Having already won a triple of PFA and Football Writers Player of the Year, plus Manchester United Player of the Year, Wayne will be hoping that he can get a goal or two to hold off the challenge of Didier Drogba and secure a fourth personal award, the Golden Boot!
Stoke Team News:
Tony Pulis, unusually for a Premier League manager, named the same starting eleven and the same seven substitutes for consecutive matches, which suspects us to expect something similar this weekend, or he may have a rush of blood to the head and make drastic changes, who knows!
Injuries – Sorensen and Faye
Suspensions – None
Player to watch: Rory Delap
The creator of mayhem courtesy of his long throws. One such throw engineered the winner at Craven Cottage in midweek, let`s see how United cope with them on Sunday!
Match Facts & Stats
Stoke have not won at Old Trafford since 6th December 1984.
In the last eleven meetings United have won nine, in those nine Stoke have failed to score. Interestingly, in those other two games, Stoke did score and won!
Referee – Mark Clattenburg
Assistants – Dave Bryan and Michael Murphy
Fourth Official – Chris Foy
Stoke put up a resilient display last time out, in an away fixture, winning 1-0 at Craven Cottage, this was in stark contrast to the 7-0 thrashing they experienced at our title rivals ground, Stamford Bridge. Stoke have a good away record, one of the better in the division and until Chelsea battered them, were miserly on the road when it comes to conceding goals.
Here at Vital United we expect Sir Alex to send his boys out fully wound up and do a job on Stoke and win by three clear goals.
For once, the last Premier League game witnesses the closure of our season. No FA Cup Final, no Champions League Final just the hope that Wigan can prevail and give us that record fourth consecutive top-flight title.