Wednesday 23 December 2015

Match preview: Stoke v United (Boxing Day 12.45pm)

United will be looking for some renewed festive cheer as we make the short  trip to the Potteries against former Reds legend Mark Hughes Stoke side on Boxing Day.

This match at the Britannia could not have come at a worse time for the Reds- winless in six having suffered three consecutive defeats and with manager Louis van Gaal reportedly one poor result from the sack.

Bastian Schweinsteiger serves the final game of his three match ban, Matteo Darmian is and Jesse Lingard are both ruled out but there are no new injury worries for United.
Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw remain sidelined and are all long term absentees. 

Trips to Stoke are never easy and they are always a difficult proposition at the Britannia but their recent form is mixed having lost at lowly Sunderland and at home to Palace last time out.

In the first of three league games in eight days for both sides over Christmas and New Year, we host Chelsea just 48 hours later on the 28th and then recent bogey side Swansea City on the 2nd January.

A side boasting the attacking talents of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay, Bojan and Marko Arnautovic have the potential to trouble any side- as Manchester City can attest to in their recent 2-0 reverse to the Potters, who currently lie eleventh in the table. 

Speaking pre-match on Wednesday, van Gaal says he maintains the belief that United can turn their recent form around, and said:

"We are not in a good position and our recent matches have been not so good, but four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League and again in a few weeks we can back in that position.
"I have to say that I have tried to lift the confidence of my players and I have seen the warmth and everyone on the training ground in Carrington.
"The injuries are more or less the same, so there is no difference- Matteo Darmian shall perhaps come back next week and Phil Jones has played 90 minutes and had no reaction so that is good."

United have an exemplary Boxing Day record having only lost once on 26th December and what better way to bring Christmas cheer by continuing that run. 

Form guide: Stoke W L W W D L United D D D L L L 
Match odds: Stoke 12/5 Draw 7/2 United 16/11 
Referee: Kevin Friend 

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