A match against Stoke City wouldn’t normally worry the reigning Premier League champions. But with just one win from their last four league matches, you get the feeling that Manchester United must be a little on edge before today’s match at Old Trafford (10 am ET, watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
Stoke have scored just four goals in eight matches, yet the Potters have won twice and have managed to (narrowly) avoid the relegation zone. But Stoke’s last win came against West Ham back in August, and they’ve picked up just one point in their last four games, from last week’s goalless draw with West Brom. Ryan Shawcross missed training last week due to illness and Geoff Cameron sat out the match against the Baggies with a calf injury, but both defenders start against United.
It must be rough for David Moyes, knowing not even a win combined with an Everton loss today would pull United even with his former side. But at least he’ll have Robin van Persie on hand to help, although it’s Wayne Rooney who’s been in better form over the past month. In fact, Moyes might do well to concentrate on his defense rather than his attack, as United have allowed ten goals already this season, including the last-minute equalizer last week from Southampton. There was hope that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic would return to shore up the defense, but neither are even on the bench.
Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Evans, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa; Rooney, van Persie.
Subs: Lindegaard, Rafael, Fellaini, Januzaj, Young, Valencia, Hernandez.
Stoke starting XI: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Walters, Palacios, Ireland, Nzonzi, Arnautovic; Crouch
Subs: Sorensen, Whelan, Jones, Wilson, Adam, Assaidi, Wilkinson