Premier League: Manchester United v Stoke City Team News

Premier League: Manchester United v Stoke City Team News

Manchester United seek to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League with a win over visitors Stoke City on Tuesday.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are unbeaten in the Premier League this season and but for a dramatic late comeback by West Brom in October would boast a 100% league record at Old Trafford.

Currently level on points with their city rivals, United have two games in hand on Manchester City who play third placed Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday night, so victory against eighth placed Stoke will put them in a strong position very early into the New Year.

Stoke travel to Manchester in a healthy position in the league, having turned around a dangerous slump in form that resulted in four consecutive defeats from mid October and have now lost just twice in the last nine games.

Tony Pulis’ side has taken six points from nine over the Christmas period with wins at Blackburn and at home to Everton and will look forward to the challenge of facing the league leaders.

And, it is quite a challenge they face; having lost in all 5 head-to-head meetings since returning to the top flight, Stoke have suffered 4-0 and 5-0 defeats on their previous two visits to Old Trafford.

United are sweating over the fitness of some key players after a busy holiday period with Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra and Darron Gibson picking up knocks against West Brom at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Rooney will undergo a late fitness test on his ankle which was caught by Chris Brunt late in the game, while Ferguson is hoping to recall Portuguese winger Nani who has not played since the 1-0 win against Arsenal over 3 weeks ago due to a hip injury.

Dimitar Berbatov looks sure to play and is in great form at the moment, he has scored three times over the Christmas period and leads the Premier League scoring chart with 14 goals so far this term.

Victor Chandler offers odds of 18/5 for the 29-year-old Bulgarian to open the scoring on Tuesday in a game United are expected to win with ease.

As for Stoke, Pulis doesn’t appear to have any new injury concerns from the Christmas fixtures and he can welcome back central defender Robert Huth who missed the Everton game with a suspension.

The former Chelsea and Middlesbrough defender is one of Stoke’s aerial threats and his opening goal against Blackburn was his fourth of this campaign.

Possible starting lineups:
MAN UTD: Van der Sar; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher, Nani; Rooney, Berbatov.
STOKE: Begovic; Collins, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson; Delap, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington; Fuller, Jones.
 

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