Javier Hernandez, which forced the Mexican from the pitch inside 10 minutes, and a strong performance from Reds goalkeeper David De Gea, who stood up impeccably to Stoke’s aerial bombardment and made two or three top-class saves.
Tony Pulis doesn’t seek attention or controversy, although that’s not to say he hasn’t made an impact at the Britannia. This is his second spell at Stoke, a tenure that began with winning promotion to the top flight in 2006/07. Five years later, the Potters are now a mid-table fixture in the Premier League and, like United, will compete in the Europa League’s Round of 32 next month. For all his success, Pulis has his fair share of detractors. He’s assembled a team of big, strong players and encouraged them to play to their physical strengths, an approach that isn't always easy on the eye. Few can argue it's not been effective, though.
Stoke’s biggest threat – in more ways than one; he’s 6ft 7in – is undoubtedly Peter Crouch. He thrives on Stoke’s direct approach and can be a real handful for defenders. And while he’s obviously good in the air, Crouch can also make things happen with the ball at his feet. Under-estimate him at your peril.
“United may have injury problems, but they’ve got incredible strength in depth. That’s why they’re the current champions and I’m sure that whatever side Sir Alex sends out it will still be one full of outstanding quality.” – Tony Pulis
All eyes will be on Sir Alex’s team selection on Tuesday night, with a specific interest in his choice of goalkeeper. David De Gea was terrific against Stoke back in September, but