Stoke City will kick off this match being the relegation zone after a West Ham victory and manager Mark Hughes will know that Stoke need a victory sooner rather than later after going six matches without a victory. Unfortunately, Hughes will have to achieve this against his former club Manchester United who are in a buoyant mood after securing Juan Mata.
If there is anything Stoke can take as a confidence booster, it is that they pushed United all the way in their last match with each other. Considering Stoke are strong in their ground the Brittania, logic only dictates that they would be able to push United all the way again, right?
I would certainly argue so. Even with Juan Mata, United's midfield is still weak. With Michael Carrick having an average season so far, United will lack a calming influence on the game and as such they may be overawed by a team that still possess the brute strength Tony Pulis instilled in them.
Of course with van Persie, Rooney and Mata ahead of a weak midfield, United will always be able to create something out of nothing.
However, how the United defenders deal with Stoke's attack's will determine the result in this match. Throughout the season, United have been poor defensively, particularly when dealing with high balls in the air.
The chopping and changing of United's defense has not helped this matter and with Stoke's Charlie Adam being a specialist with set pieces, and Peter Crouch causing United all sorts of troubles at Old Trafford earlier in the season Stoke have the capabilities to snatch a few goals themselves.
Stoke City 2-2 Manchester United