Following a long break since FA Cup action, United welcome Stoke to Old Trafford which sees second from the top hosting second from the bottom.
It looked to be inevitable that Mark Hughes would finally be sacked after his team lost 2-1 at Coventry City in the third round (and he was just hours later). Now Paul Lambert has been announced shortly before the clash. Managerial counterpart Jose Mourinho is in a war of words between he and other managers and seems to have regained fire.
There could be a lot of talk surrounding this Monday night match…
Kick-off: 20:00 (GMT)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Location: Old Trafford
Current run: LLLDW
Top scorer: Xherdan Shaqiri
One to watch: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Bruno Martins Indi; groin (1 week)
- Erik Pieters; hamstring (day to day)
- Ryan Shawcross; calf (1 week)
Jack Butland may have been questioned in the FA Cup but he should keep his place.
The newly signed right wing back Moritz Bauer from Rubin Kazan (who he won player of the year at last term) could make his debut as he possesses lightning speed.
Erik Pieters may be fit to play after his muscle problem.
A man who scored Stoke’s equaliser at Old Trafford last season, Joe Allen, is in contention to use his industrious specialities in a play-making role.
Usually carrying the reputation of a rough and tumble side, over the last few seasons a real passing and fluid style of play as come into the team’s tactics in order to adapt further and it has been a success.
With caretaker manager Eddie Niedzwiecki taking charge of his first and seemingly only match in such a high pressure situation, there will be no surprise if his side set up defensively. It’s expected that Lambert will watch from the stands.
Their 3-4-3 formation saw relative success early in the campaign but has lost it’s power with injuries to key men such as ex-United man Ryan Shawcross at the heart of the defence. That has lead to them adopting a 4-2-3-1 with Geoff Cameron and former United man Darren Fletcher in the middle of the park as the pair.
Out on the flanks the threatening and often magical Xherdan Shaqiri could make his mark on the match with a dazzling left foot and speed to burn and former Bundesliga colleague Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting can use his height to be an aerial threat coming in from the wing and scored twice against United last time out. In addition, loanee Jesé Rodriguez has skill to take defenders out of the game.
Up front, another former United player in Mame Biram Diouf is a danger with his pace and power much like Saido Berahino who may also play. Also, the over 100 time Premier League goalscorer Peter Crouch always causes problems. The star man at the moment however is Egyptian youngster Ramadan Sabki, who has been a breath of fresh air with a couple of goals to his name in the league at this point.
The Red Devils
The team – along with some family members – took a warm weather training trip to Dubai in midweek in which they were able to relax and also share some social media camaraderie in the process.
Transfer rumours are hot with the likes of Lucas Moura, Ryan Sessegnon and most notably Alexis Sanchez (who Mourinho refused to comment on much in his press conference) all being linked with a move to the club to name a few.
In contrast, the likes of Matteo Darmian, Marouane Fellaini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been linked with a move away from the club.
Although the only confirmed deals thus far have been Demitri Mitchell and James Wilson, who have joined SPL side Hearts and Championship side Sheffield Wednesday respectively on loan until the end of the season; but everything to do with United transfers you’re in the right place here.
A war of words between Antonio Conte and Mourinho has developed even further since United’s last match and is sure to be mentioned in relation to this encounter.
The injury list is slowly shortening yet key men remain absent.
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Eric Bailly; ankle (2 months)
- Michael Carrick; heart (back in training)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic; knee (3 weeks)
- Antonio Valencia; hamstring (day to day)
- Ashley Young; retrospective action – violent conduct (1 match remaining)
David De Gea is set to return in goal and is also set to be offered a new long-term contract.
Antonio Valencia is now fit to return and will captain the side.
Chris Smalling should be ready to feature after getting over an injury.
Michael Carrick is in the squad following almost 4 months out with a heart problem and will be sure to receive a great reception.
Marouane Fellaini may have been rumoured to be playing elsewhere soon but he may well play as he is also fully fit.
Jesse Lingard could well play behind Romelu Lukaku once more and Henrik Mkhitaryan is likely to get some minutes according to Mourinho after rumours of the former Borussia Dortmund player’s departure.
Last 5 meetings: DDDWL
Reverse fixture: 2-2
- United have won 25 of the last 27 possible points against Stoke at Old Trafford
- Stoke haven’t beat United in their last 17 visits to Old Trafford since 1976
- Anthony Martial has been involved in 3 goals in his 2 home games versus Stoke
- Jesse Lingard has an average goal involvement ratio of 1 every 88 minutes – the best any United player has
- 9 managers (including caretakers) have taken charge of their first Premier League match at Old Trafford – the only one not to avoid defeat was Claudio Ranieri in 2000 with Chelsea in a 3-3 draw
Enjoy the match!