After seeing Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal drop points at the weekend, José Mourinho’s men should be inspired to go out and close the enormous gap between themselves and their across-town rivals.
Stoke, who are still manager-less after sacking Mark Hughes two weeks ago, are in an incredibly poor run of form and come into this fixture at Old Trafford firmly in the bottom three. It is going to be a huge uphill battle for them against the Red Devils, especially with the good news floating around the Mancunian club.
That good news appears to be the imminent arrival of Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez. A primary target for Pep Guardiola, his Portuguese rival appears to have got in ahead of him and persuaded the Chilean to join his ranks at Old Trafford. There will be a jubilant atmosphere around the stadium, especially if it is pretty much all but announce before the game.
Mourinho said in his pre-match press conference that Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimović remain ruled out through injury, while Anthony Martial is a doubt. The former Chelsea manager is hoping that the Frenchman can pull through, but is treading with caution not to overuse him.
Ashley Young is suspended after his red card against Southampton for elbowing Dusan Tadic. And Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia are doubtful, but could be named on the bench.
For Stoke, Bruno Martins Indi remains on the bench as well as Erik Pieters and Jesé as their injuries do not progress in time to regain full match fitness.
Bojan has returned from Spain after his six-month loan at Deportivo Alaves, and is now looking to revive his Stoke career. Unlikely to make the starting XI, the Spaniard could be a name on the bench to come on and make a positive impact.
Manchester United should win this game with comfortable ease. There is one thing having a manager that is up against it, but another going to Old Trafford with not true head coach in place.
Stoke are on the ropes and the lsat time they won at the Theatre of Dreams was back in 1976, a lifetime ago.
With Marouane Fellaini back into the fold, Mourinho has more weapons at his disposal. A player such as the Belgian can combat Stoke’s aerial threat, although they have drifted away from their origins in that respect, and provide diligence when defending.
The Red Devils should be scoring three or more goals in this fixture given the Potters have conceded an incredible 47 goals in 22 matches. Their defence is incredibly weak and flimsy, so there should be a vast amount of opportunities for Mourinho’s men.
Stoke’s best hope is to come away with a draw, but even that looks unlikely with limited firepower up front and a leaky defence at the back. They are in rock bottom four and struggling to recruit a manager.
Manchester United 3-0 Stoke (6/1 with BetBright).
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