WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) is in the saddle for the Sunday games again. Here he previews Stoke’s visit to Old Trafford as they attempt to end their dire head-to-head and current form against the Red Devils.
Manchester United v Stoke | Sunday 12:00 | BT Sport 1
United didn’t make as light work of 25/1 pokes Zorya Luhansk on Thursday night as was expected by most. Last weekend’s 4-1 demolition job of Leicester was mightily impressive though as they looked like the United of old; direct and aggressive.
For me, Jose Mourinho was always going to instil a confidence of the similar level that Sir Alex Ferguson did, where Louis van Gaal and David Moyes could not.
The audacity of Paul Pogba and Juan Mata to play a combination of both tricky and simplistic passes in the Leicester box caught the away team cold. This was a Foxes team that had only lost five of it’s last 50 Premier League matches and they were dead and buried by half-time.
So then, how will Stoke fare at the Theatre of Dreams?
Despite not finishing outside the top 14 places in each of their last eight consecutive Premier League seasons, Stoke have managed to lose every single away game at Old Trafford.
To make matters worse, the Potters have suffered their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign with no wins in six games, four defeats in total and the second worst defensive record with 15 goals conceded.
No side has scored fewer goals than Stoke either and that’s a real surprise when they have Wilfried Bony, Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic to call upon.
It looked like Mark Hughes was about to get out of the firing line last weekend until Solomon Rondon popped up with a 91st minute header to level the game 1-1 against West Brom. A result at United is not really expected by fans or pundits but it would do the Welshman a lot of favours.
Stoke have lost at Old Trafford by one goal three times; 2011, 2013 and 2014 and by two or more goals on the over five occasions.
It’s a 50/50 split between Man United winning ‘to nil’ and winning with both teams scoring so it’s fair to say that past head-to-heads give no firm indication of what’s going to happen here.
Jack Butland remains sidelined and that combined with the rotation between Phil Bardsley, Geoff Cameron and Erik Pieters appears to be disrupting the Stoke rearguard.
Marcus Rashford has now scored in four of his last five Premier League appearances and Bruno Martins Indi does not look to have bedded in at centre-back at all well for the visitors. I’ll back the youngster to notch at 6/4 with PaddyPower.
Despite the head-to-head record I think 4/11 is pretty short on the home win. I’m not interested in United to win by two or more goals either, it’s odds-on with almost every bookie around 10/11.
A performance is desperately needed from Mark Hughes men and this is a great opportunity to prove the doubters wrong. For that reason, I can see Stoke frustrating United but ultimately I think the home side will get over the line. The Red Devils to win by exactly one goal is 11/4 with Skybet.
Manchester United v Stoke – Marcus Rashford to score anytime (6/4 PaddyPower)
Manchester United v Stoke – Manchester United to win by one goal (11/4 Skybet)