Friday 20 January 2017

Match preview: Stoke City v United

United make the ever-tricky trip to the Britannia looking to make it seventeen matches unbeaten at a ground where we haven't won since 2013.

Eric Bailly remains unavailable on AFCON duty but the Reds have an otherwise fully fit squad to pick from for the visit to the Potteries. 
Wilfried Bony, Mame Diouf and Ramadan Sobhi all also away with their countries but Mark Hughes side have no injury worries.
Peter Crouch will start up front for the hosts in Bony's absence as he searches for his 100th Premier League goal. 

Lee Grant almost single-handedly denied United the win in October's Old Trafford reverse and looks set to deputise again with Jack Butland still injured. 

The Reds were frustrated by the stubborn and resilient visitors - and Grant's heroics - in that game as Joe Allen cancelled out Anthony Martial's opener to earn Stoke their first away point at United in the Premier League era.
We've won our last four away league games but the Britannia has not been a happy hunting ground in recent years with two defeats in the last three seasons. 

Stoke, led by former United striker Hughes, have been inconsistent this season and come into this clash ninth in the table - a position they have made their own having finished there in each of the Welshman's three seasons in charge. 

The Potters earned a reputation as a robust and physical outfit under Tony Pulis but Sparky has added guile to their grit and, with the quality of Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri, Allen and Marko Arnautovic, they remain a dangerous proposition for any side. 

Reds boss Jose Mourinho has said his side are not going to Stoke to focus on defending our unbeaten run. 
He said:
"It's a nice run to have, I have to admit, but we are not going there just to defend this record.
"We are not going to play any match to try to be unbeaten for one more match, or to try to reach 18 or 20, not at all, we cannot think this way.
"We want to win always, we try to win every match and will do everything we can - if we lose, we lose the unbeaten run.
"We have zero injuries and everyone is available apart from Bailly, we have little problems but that is normal so we are in a good situation."

This match presents a perfect opportunity for us to make up some ground on the sides above us as fifth placed City host in-form Spurs in the tea-time kick off.

Form guide: Stoke D L L W L W United W W W W W D
Match odds: Stoke 13/8 Draw 14/5 United 9/2
Referee: Mark Clattenburg 

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