Big and direct, Stoke City will hope to cause an upset at Old Trafford on Tuesday night...
Recent wins at Manchester City and Arsenal were undoubtedly big results for Sir Alex’s men, but the bigger picture reveals the Reds have actually lost three of the last six fixtures. As such, Stoke come into this game boasting better form, with Tony Pulis’ men having tasted defeat just once in all competitions since Christmas. Still, that’s unlikely to fill Stoke fans with too much confidence. After all, Stoke have never beaten United in the Premier League era, home or away, and have scored just once on their last seven visits to Old Trafford.
Ins and outs
Anderson and Ashley Young are due back in full training this week but this game will probably come too soon for both players. There’s no suggestion Wayne Rooney, Nani or Phil Jones will make it, either, after all three missed United’s defeat at Anfield on Saturday. Rio Ferdinand watched that game from the substitutes’ bench, which suggests he’s close to a return. But while United could almost name an injured XI (we’ve not even mentioned long-term absentees Nemanja Vidic, Michael Owen, Darren Fletcher or Tom Cleverley), Stoke City are sweating only on the fitness of Matthew Etherington, who limped off against Derby County at the weekend with a groin problem.
September’s league game at the Britannia finished 1-1 after Peter Crouch’s second-half header cancelled out Nani’s 27th-minute opener. The game was also notable for an early injury to