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Preview: Stoke City vs Manchester United

by jonnyescott

Going into the game on the back of two disappointing defeats at the hands of Chelsea in the FA Cup and arch rivals Manchester City in the league, Manchester United travel to the Britannia Stadium on Sunday where they will be entertained by an out of form Stoke City.

The Britannia is renowned for being a fortress for Stoke over the past five years and United have had to grind out results there, with their biggest margin of victory coming in a 2-0 victory in the 2009/2010 season.

Stoke, who have not won since beating Reading back in early February, will be looking to take one step closer to securing their Premier League status for next season but they may have to do it without Matthew Etherington who is struggling with a back injury and former United youth protégé Marc Wilson who may miss out due to a hamstring and back problem.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on Friday that captain Nemanja Vidic is back in training but Ashley Young has been ruled out for two weeks after picking up an ankle injury against City on Monday.

But United will be boosted by the return of Jonny Evans after he missed both of United’s previous two losses to Chelsea and Manchester City.

And going into the game, United are heavy favourites to come away with three points. This season, United have scored 27 goals in the opening 30 minutes of games which is just one fewer than the 28 that Stoke have scored in 90 minutes all season. A pretty damning statistic.

United have being struggling on the goal front with their marquee summer signing Robin Van Persie failing to score in 685 minutes of football, so we may well see Hernandez get the nod up front and given his goalscoring record against Stoke, you would be surprised to not see the Mexican start.

Given United’s poor recent form, a game against struggling Stoke could be the perfect hangover cure for a poor run of form since Madrid. With a 12 point cushion still underneath us, United are still well on course for securing title number 20 and only need to get ten points from their remaining seven games to do so.

Everything points towards a United win and given United’s recent defensive dominance, with City being the first team to score against us in seven Premier League games, Stoke’s front line is certainly going to struggle to find the net.

After the woes of last season, Ferguson simply won’t let complacency kick in and after losing to City on Monday, he will want a strong victory against Stoke.

Prediction: Stoke City 0-3 Manchester United

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