By Andy Hyslop
- First of seven fixtures for United in February
- United’s last home until February 25 when they face FC Midtjylland in the Europa League
- United looking to avenge 2-0 defeat to Stoke on Boxing Day
The visit of Stoke City to Old Trafford signals the start of seven games in 26 days for Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United. The month of February could proved to be a defining one for United’s season.
This match is United’s closest home game to the anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster and the players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect.
Manchester United will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League after the recent 1-0 defeat to Southampton.
Hopefully the 3-1 defeat of Derby County in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday night will have given the players a confidence as they look to go a long unbeaten run.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes may be glad to be back in Premier League action after a disappointing week in the cup competitions. Stoke were knocked out both the League Cup and the FA Cup in the space of four days.
Manchester United have a 100% record against Stoke at Old Trafford. Winning seven out of seven since their return to the top flight in the 2008/09 season.
Louis Van Gaal will be pleased that all his players came the Derby cup tie unscathed and also with the return to fitness of Michael Carrick.
Matteo Darmian should be available for this game after missing the FA Cup tie on Friday night. We haven’t had any official updates on the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger or Phil Jones but it is believed that German captain Schweinsteiger may be out until the end of the month.
Meanwhile we believe that Rojo and Valencia are the only ones of the long-term injury victims that may be back in contention in the coming weeks.
It is our believe that Darmian will return to the starting line-up at right-back, while the rest of the back line will remain unchanged.
Ahead of that, United may go will the same team that started Friday nights game. Though Ander Herrera will be pushing for a return after dropping to the bench.
Stoke come into this game sat four places below United in ninth place in the Premier League table. Having beaten United on Boxing Day, Mark Hughes is looking to do the double over his old side.
Last time out in the league, Stoke suffered a 3-0 defeat to this seasons shock pacesetters Leicester City. And have since been knocked out of both cup competitions.
Like United, Stoke also have injury worries to there backline. With captain Ryan Shawcross set to miss this game with a back injury. While Marc Wilson is set to be out for three months after suffering a knee injury at the weekend.
The game will be 100th Premier League game in charge of Stoke for Mark Hughes. The former United striker has suffered defeat on all of his last eight visits to Old Trafford.