25/10/2013 07:22, Report by Mark Froggatt
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Preview: United v Stoke

Last meeting In April this year, United edged to within seven points of the title thanks to a 2-0 win at the Britannia Stadium, where goals from Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie proved decisive. For the latter, it was his first conversion in 751 minutes of action, prompting the Dutchman to embrace his manager Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline in celebration.

The manager Reds legend Mark Hughes is the man at the helm, having replaced ex-Potters boss Tony Pulis in the summer. He's made a decent start too, but with just four goals chalked onto the board this season, the ex-Reds striker wants his side to be more clinical. "We've made opportunities, but we haven't been taking them. We do feel that we will start to convert them sooner, rather than later. We have a lot of options up top. We need to find that one combination which will be able to carry us through the season. We need to get the right balance and I think we are close to finding the right one."

Star man Potters keeper Asmir Begovic is high on confidence after helping Bosnia qualify for the World Cup, just days before impressing during Stoke's goalless draw with West Brom. "Weeks like this are what dreams are made of," he said. "Getting to the World Cup has been a dream of mine - what it meant to us and to the country was huge. A big motivation for us to qualify were our people back home. It's a big carrot now, going to Brazil. I don't have to be ready yet but I'm doing my work as best as I can."

Whistle-blower Lee Mason is the man in the middle. The Lancashire-based official is yet to take charge of either team this season. United fans previously saw him during last season's 1-0 win over Reading at Old Trafford.

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