Manchester United v Stoke City - Preview

  Despite excellent home form in the Premier League this season, which is absolutely nothing to do with the potency of a certain player’s throws on our tiny pitch, I am all too aware that Stoke have failed to win an away game in the league this season, settling for just two goalless draws on the road, at Liverpool and Wigan. That being said, there will be few better chances to gain an away victory than tomorrow’s visit to Kent’s favourite side, Manchester United. I fully expect Stoke, buoyed by the knowledge that unlike our opponents, we are the richest side in our city to tear apart Sir Alex Ferguson’s beautifully groomed side.

  Joking aside, a visit to the Champions of England and Europe, whose football is second only to that of Arsenal and West Brom, is surely the hardest challenge faced by Pulis’ men so far this season. Stoke fans can take heart from the knowledge that results have been gained over both Liverpool and Arsenal though, two sides generally considered to be close to Manchester United’s equals.

  A record of ten titles in the last sixteen seasons illustrates the Manchester club’s quality, and a hard task for the Stoke side looks to be on the cards. Few know more about hardness than Stoke’s core of African colossuses though. Cristiano Ronaldo may just edge out Abdoulaye Faye in a beauty contest, but there’s only going to be one winner for 50-50 ball. When the commitment of United’s Portuguese star has been called into doubt recently, no such worries can exist for the Stoke squad. One hundred percent commitment is guaranteed from the Potters, and, as Arsenal recently discovered, this can be enough to throw up a shock result against a team of superior players.

  So, as Pulis’ men run out onto the pitch at the vomit-inducingly named ‘Theatre of Dreams’ tomorrow, to the cries of ”We support our local team” from the traveling masses, the overiding emotion amongst the Stoke contingent will be one of hope for a result, and determination to enjoy our day, and season, with the big boys, ruffling as many feathers as possible as we go.

                                         

Marc Goodfellow celebrates scoring twice in a 3-1 friendly win for Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in July 2003, the last time the two sides met

                                          

Manchester United squad:

Goalkeepers:

Edwin van der Sar, 38

Ben Foster, 25

Tomasz Kuszczak, 26

Ron-Robert Zieler, 19

Ben Amos, 18

Defenders:

Rio Ferdinand, 30

Nemanja Vidic, 27

Gary Neville, 33

Patrice Evra, 27

Wes Brown, 29

Rafael Da Silva, 18

Fabio Da Silva, 18

John O’Shea, 27

Jonny Evans, 20

David Gray, 20

Richard Eckersley, 19

James Chester, 19

Midfielders:

Cristiano Ronaldo, 23

Anderson, 20

Michael Carrick, 27

Ryan Giggs, 34

Paul Scholes, 33

Nani, 21

Darren Fletcher, 24

Owen Hargreaves, 27

Park Ji-Sung, 27

Rodrigo Possebon, 19

Tom Cleverley, 19

Sam Hewson, 19

Forwards:

Wayne Rooney, 23

Dimitar Berbatov, 27

Carlos Tevez, 24

Danny Welbeck, 17

Manucho, 25

Federico Macheda, 17

 

STAR MAN:

Cristiano Ronaldo:

The 23 year old is one of the most highly regarded footballers in world football today. The Madeira-born winger/forward, who recently claimed the FifPro World Player of the Year Award 2008, joined United in 2003 from Sporting Lisbon and has since impressed and annoyed everyone in equal measure, with his quick feet and arrogant manner. Ronaldo claimed the European Golden Shoe award for top goalscorer last year, hitting the net more than 30 times in the league.

                                       

Key head-to-heads:

Danny Higginbotham v Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo will surely pose the toughest challenge of the season so far for the Stoke left-back. Keeping Ronaldo quiet will go a long way to keeping United at bay as an atacking force so a good performance from Higginbotham is a must.

                          Picture of Danny Higginbotham   Picture of Cristiano Ronaldo

Ricardo Fuller v Rio Ferdinand

With so much of Stoke’s attacking play being centred on Fuller it is necessary he gets the better of one of teh game’s best centre-backs in Ferdinand for Stoke to stand a chance going forward. At his best Fuller is unplayable, lets hope he produces a performance in that vein tomorrow.

                            Picture of Ricardo Fuller  Picture of Rio Ferdinand

 

 2008/09 comparison stats:

                                  Manchester United                         Stoke

Played:                                    18                                        15

Won:                                       10                                         6

Drawn:                                     5                                          3

Lost:                                        3                                          6

Home record (W,D,L):            7,2,0                                    5,1,2

Away record (W,D,L):             4,3,3                                    1,2,4

Goals scored:                           31                                        20

Goals conceded:                       12                                        23

League position:                        4                                         12

Disciplinary (Y,R):                     28,2                                     27,1

Top scorers:    Ronaldo (7), Berbatov & Rooney (5)   Fuller (5), Olofinjana & Whelan (2)         

     United’s Old Trafford home

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