United roll up for only our 2nd 3 PM home game of the season (it’s bloody November) against an inconsistent Stoke side fresh from defeating Chelsea to progress to the quarter finals of the League Cup.
We’ve had quite a week. Derby defeat and the fall out. Colo’s utterly ludicrous dismissal rescinded and Jack Colback could be out for months. I don’t know about you but I’ve been inundated with mackem ‘well-wishers’ this week on tiwtter. Who’d have thought getting your first win and still being terrible would drive anyone to seek out and listen to a rival fans’ podcast. It would be nice for each team to return to form and us pick up three points this weekend and for them to be relegated on Sunday.
We enter the ‘crucial’ stage of the season where it really is win or bust for our manager. He’s done plenty right so far, but more wrong as United’s main man. Chiefly sticking with the same defunct 4 2 3 1 formation for the first 6 games and using Papisse Cisse as the ‘1’. United played well in patches at Man City and well overall against Chelsea and SAFC – but were stodgy at times v Norwich but scored 6. A solid 90 minutes against the men from the Potteries without any red cards or penalties, will surely yield three points. This fixture and the following fixtures against Bournemouth and then Leicester at home simply must yield a minimum of 6 points – maybe more.
United will be unchanged from the Derby besides the ineffectual Anita coming in for the much missed Colback. Jack has his detractors but I think he’s a really good player, especially when not playing as a DM. Lee Cattermole will get what’s coming to him one day, and we’ll laugh. Anita worries me. Too ‘neat’. Anita and Tiote = the passenger and the red card. Stoke will play a man more in midfield. Maybe McClaren will move Winjaldum or Sissoko inside, but I doubt it. Speaking of our wingers, who both caused SAFC problems they could only dream of causing opposition teams – time to perform again lads.
Rob Elliot is in goal so we’ll concede. Norwich and SAFC had 5 chances between them where got shots and target and he saved none of them. He has roots in his legs, deep roots that burrow far underground. I’ve seen rocks move more quickly off a line.
Stoke have lost one of their last 7 games in all competitions. The problem for them was it was against Watford last week. All of their wins were 1 0 in that run so they don’t concede many at all and are still turgid to watch, despite the additional talent acquired this summer.
They’ll play 4 5 1 – flood the midfield and be dangerous from set pieces. All the things we’re shit at. Stoke only have Muniesa injured and I don’t know who he is. I think they’re one of those teams that aren’t in a perpetual injury crisis. Must be nice. Peter Crouch has done nothing this season and seems to be 3rd choice striker with Walters and Odemwingie most likely getting the nod ahead of him. Let’s hope Colo fancies it this time against the physical Walters.
Charlie Adam still plays for them and gets a game. They beat a full strength Chelsea team in mid-week (on pens) so it was a draw really. But we did that so maybe it’s nothing worth shouting about. Their defeat to Watford was fully deserved. I’ve no idea how it’s going to go.
Interesting Stoke fact: Shay Given plays for them
Reasons to hate Stoke: They made me realise Chris Hughton wasn’t the man when Pulis’ cloggers did us 2 1 at home in 2010. Bastards.
Prediction: 7-3 win
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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