Match Preview: Manchester United vs Stoke City

Manchester United travel to the Bet365 Stadium as they face Mark Hughes’ Stoke City in their fourth league game of the season.
Jose Mourinho’s side come into the match on the back of a 2-0 win over Leicester City, while Stoke drew 1-1 with West Brom just before the international break.

Mourinho’s side do not have any new injury concerns, and all of their 17 players with their national teams returned harmless. Only Rojo and Ibrahimovic remain sidelined with long term injuries, and Young and Shaw remain unlikely to be included in the travelling squad due to lack of fitness. Victor Lindelof could play an important role, as Mourinho knows he’s without Bailly and Jones for the UCL match against Basel next week and needs to give the Swedish defender some minutes before that. Ander Herrera, who recently stated that weather would play an important role in this match, is likely to start his first league game of the season. The Spaniard, who was United’s Player of the Year last season, has been kept out of the side with Mourinho sticking to a two-man midfield, and has consequently seen only 5 minutes of league action out of a possible 270. That could be about to change though, as Mourinho could opt for a three man midfield against a robust Stoke team who could be tricky opponents. It would be interesting to see if Rashford or Martial start on the left wing, and Mata is most likely to make way if Herrera returns to the starting eleven.

Manchester United remain on top of the table after three match-weeks and are now the only team with a 100% record. However, that might change against a well-drilled side whose stadium has always been taunting for the Red Devils. The hosts have experienced every type of result in just three matches- Won against Arsenal, Drew against West Brom and Lost to Everton. Mark Hughes’ side did defeat League One side Rochdale prior to the international break, reaching the third round of the EFL Cup with a dominating 4-0 victory. They are now 11th in the league, but aren’t new to frustrating United at home, having drawn with them for the previous two seasons. Kevin Wimmer could make his debut after signing from Tottenham, but Bojan and Imbula have left on loan late in the window and their attack could probably miss their fluidity in attack. Former Red Devil Darren Fletcher could miss the match as he withdrew from the Scotland squad due to a knee injury. Jese Rodriguez is the one to look out for, and it would be a problem for Valencia to contain the former PSG winger who scored the winner against Arsenal on his Stoke debut.

Stoke City are, without doubt, United’s toughest opponents this season, but being an optimistic fan, I can’t see Mourinho’s men dropping points just yet. That doesn’t mean that stoke aren’t capable enough of causing an upset, but United’s confidence would be the key point and I just don’t see any outcome other than a United win. There could be a shortage of goals in the match, but United will prove once and for all that they CAN do it on a rainy night in Stoke.