The manager: Reds fans need little reminder of Mark Hughes’ talents as player from his years of magnificent service with United. The Welshman turned to management with his national side in 1999, and the 50-year-old has since become one of the most experienced bosses in the Barclays Premier League with stints at Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham and QPR before taking up the reins at Stoke City last summer.
Last meeting: Hughes was just 12 minutes away from guiding his new side to a rare win at Old Trafford in October, until Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney turned the tables to help United snatch a dramatic 3-2 victory.
Sub-plot: United’s away form – we are unbeaten in our last eight matches on the road – bodes well for our bid to make the League Cup semi-finals for the first time since the 2009/10 season.
Did you know? In 15 matches that have taken place on the 18th December, United have lost just once – 3-1 away to Arsenal in 1976.
Star-man: Deadline day signing Marko Arnautovic and fellow midfielder Steven Nzonzi have helped stabilise the Potters after a sticky patch earlier in the season, while striker Peter Crouch still asks questions of defenders a month short of his 33rd birthday.
Quote/unquote: “Like at a lot of clubs, there is a transition happening at Stoke and they are changing. Mark is a very experienced manager in Premier League terms and he will put his own stamp on Stoke.” David Moyes.