Preview: Manchester United v Stoke City

Manchester United will be looking to stay in touch with the Premier League front-runners when they face struggling Stoke City at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Premier League
2 October 2016
Game week seven
Kickoff: 19:00 HKT

Venue: Old Trafford

Referee: R. Madley
Assistants: M. Perry, E. Smart
Fourth official: M. Jones

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Man United 75 36 22 17
Stoke City 75 17 22 36

Previous encounter:

Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City (02/02/16) Premier League

Man United goalscorers: J. Lingard (14′), A. Martial (23′), W. Rooney (53′)

Players to watch:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored six times since joining Manchester United and still continues to be a focal point of much of the club’s attacks.

He appears to be the first name on the team sheet for Jose Mourinho and has to carry more responsibility in the wake of Wayne Rooney’s decline in form.

In addition, he seems to knit much of United’s best play together in the final third with the likes of Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford in the wider positions benefiting. With the ability to score world-class goals, Ibrahimovic is one to watch closely on Sunday.

With 11 league goals in 33 starts last season, much was expected of Marko Arnautovic in 2016/17. However, Stoke’s poor start under Mark Hughes has also seen the Austrian attacker failing to deliver up to expectations.

With a powerful shot and the ability to finish when he gets an opportunity, the 27-year-old needs to start hitting some better form if he is to help the Potters start moving up the table. A convincing showing at Old Trafford could be just the stage he needs to kickstart his and the team’s season.

Team form and manager quotes:

Mourinho is refusing to accept that Stoke are a poor team because they hold 19th position in the Premier League. The Potters were largely expected to be strongly competitive in 2016/17, but a run of four losses and two draws have seen the club put under pressure.

Nonetheless, Mourinho believes they are stronger than their league position suggests, and told reporters: “It is another poisoned gift because Stoke is not what the table says. The manager is very good, the players are good, the team is good, so when I look to the table, that’s not Stoke’s position.”

Meanwhile, Hughes is hopeful his charges can turn the corner against a Red Devils team that has now won three games in a row in all competitions. The former United striker believes a result is possible at Old Trafford, although he admitted it would be a big challenge.

The Welshman told the media: “It’s going to be difficult this weekend because clearly our record at Manchester United isn’t great. It’s a big ask but, if we’re going to get a first win on the board, why can’t it be at Old Trafford?”

Team news:

Repost @anderherrera ・・・ Another day at the office ? @manchesterunited

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Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could return for the hosts after recovering from injury and illness respectively.

But Phil Jones is ruled out due to a knee problem, while Wayne Rooney could feature after making a match-winning cameo in the Europa League on Thursday.

For the visitors, midfielder Joe Allen hasn’t trained since last weekend due to a tight hamstring and is a doubt for Sunday’s clash.

Striker Jon Walters could return after an ankle injury although goalkeeper Jack Butland is not available.

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