By John Ryan
- After the international break, Manchester United travel to Stoke
- Can United maintain 100% start to the Premier League season
Stoke City were promoted to the Premier League in 2008. In their first home Premier League fixture against Manchester United Stoke welcomed the World Club Champions to their Britannia stadium and went down to a late Carlos Tevez goal.
United won on their first three Premier League visits to Stoke but have not won in their last four since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
In nine Premier League meetings at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke have won three, United have won four and there have been two draws.
On Manchester United’s last visit to Stoke Wayne Rooney broke the all-time Manchester United goal scoring record.
With a reputation built upon clever transfer purchases, physical football whereby they look to maximise their strengths. Stoke City have become a formidable side in the Premier League.
United Looking To Maintain 100% Start
With three wins from three League games Jose Mourinho’s men are favourites to win this game. The home side have four points from their three games so far with Arsenal their only win to date.
Two of their centre backs have links to Manchester United. With Ryan Shawcross beginning his career at Old Trafford and Kurt Zouma was bought for Chelsea by Jose Mourinho in 2014.
In midfield former United player Darren Fletcher partnered by ex Liverpool player Joe Allen will provide a stern test for the United midfield. Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri provides plenty of attacking threat while Berahino will lead the line for the Potters.
Mourinho will hope to avoid a repeat of last season where three straight wins at the start of the campaign petered out to a sixth place finish.
Without any injuries to report from International duty the manager has a full roster to choose from.
Romelu Lukaku has started the season in sizzling form and his goals have fired Belgium into the World Cup finals. United have not conceded a Premier League goal this season. And how they react to going behind in a game will be interesting.
It Will Be A Physical Battle
While United have a tall strong physical team only Burnley have won more aerial duels than Stoke this season.
A physical battle can be expected in this game and United’s willingness to go to the wings will be crucial.
With Stoke employing a back three in their games to date. Moving that three around could be the best source of profit for Manchester United.
The away side will look to get Lukaku on the end of most of their moves. His power and pace should test the Stoke rearguard to the maximum.
‘Stoke on a wet Tuesday night’ has become something of a cliché but under Mark Hughes Stoke are more than what they were under Tony Pulis.
They still pose a threat from corners and set pieces, they are still capable of the physical game that Pulis perfected but Hughes has added a touch of class with his signings.
While a lot of this game may be played in the air. If United give the ball away in their last third then Stoke have the materials to punish the Europa League holders.
With Paul Pogba growing in stature game by game and Nemanja Matic allowing the French man greater freedom to play, United should have too much for Stoke’s midfield.
Despite being away from home United should have more possession and more threat. Lukaku could well be the difference in this game again.
Verdict: Stoke 0-1 United with Lukaku to net the winner.