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Man Utd vs Stoke - Match Preview

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester Date & Time: Saturday, 20th October, 15:00 Manchester United will be looking to extend an unbeaten home run against Stoke City that stretches back to 1976, when the two teams clash at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. This fixture last season saw an injury-hit United stroll to a 2-0 victory with goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez.

Team News

United are set to welcome back Ashley Young, missing since the opening day with a knee injury, but are still without England defender Chris Smalling. Serbian centre-back Nemanja Vidic is still on the long-term injury list but, after an outstanding performance for Northern Ireland against Portugal, Jonny Evans looks set to be a capable replacement over the coming months. The international break has been rather kind to the Red Devils, and all of their players have returned unscathed from the most recent spell with their national sides. Stoke could include veteran striker Michael Owen in their squad this weekend after he was passed fit to play by the club's medical staff, following a groin injury. If Owen is included in the starting 11 to face his old club it will be his first start for the Potters. Full-back Andy Wilkinson returns from his three-match ban and could replace USA defender Geoff Cameron at the back. Cameron and Maurice Edu both arrived back at the club on Thursday after a long flight back from the States. Tony Pulis told the club website: "We have a decision to make with the transatlantic boys." Meanwhile Glenn Whelan is struggling to shake off a hamstring injury that saw him miss out on Ireland's last two World Cup qualifiers.

Key Battles

Jonny Evans v Peter Crouch Evans will be looking to continue his international form by putting a stop to anything Crouch can throw at the United back four. Last week he was constantly deflecting crosses from the Portuguese wingers away from danger, something he'll definitely have to do against the tall figure of Crouch - who is set to make his 300th appearance in the top flight. David De Gea v Asmir BegovicDavid De Gea is still clinging on to the No.1 jersey at United for the domestic fixtures, but understudy Anders Lindegaard could replace him at any time thanks to the controversial two-track goalkeeping system at Old Trafford. Stoke have placed their full trust in Begovic and the Bosnian has repaid his manager with some world class saves against Chelsea and Manchester City this season. Wayne Rooney v Ryan ShawcrossBoth Englishmen were part of Roy Hodgson's squad to face San Marino and Poland, but only Rooney featured on the pitch. The United forward scored three goals to go fifth in the list of England's all-time top scorers. Shawcross was an unused substitute but his performances at the back for Stoke this season have highlighted his ability to defend against the big teams. The winner of this battle may well decide the result of this fixture.

Quote, Unquote

Manchester United's Nani told manutd.com: "It is always hard to play against Stoke because they play a different kind of football to most teams in the Premier League. They are very physical and have very strong players." "It is also difficult because most of the game is in the air. We need to be strong and try to play our game. We are playing at home and we have to believe we can win the three points." United boss Sir Alex Ferguson also said: "Everyone came back from the internationals fit, which is a bonus. It is always a time when you're a bit concerned about getting the players back but, fortunately, we've been lucky this time. Also Ashley Young is fit. Chris Smalling is not quite there but is making progress." "Young gives us another option. As I€™ve said many times over the last few weeks, the strength of our squad is the attacking options we have and we€™re getting better with Darren Fletcher coming back which has been terrific for him and for us. There has been some progress with players like Nick Powell, who is progressing well, as is Tom Cleverley and Anderson is getting better all the time so all the fears about the midfield positions are evaporating quite well." Stoke City manager Tony Pulis told his club's website: "What we have got to do is go to Old Trafford and put in a performance on a par with the one at Chelsea. But that was an occasion where we were so close to getting something out of the game and then one lapse in concentration proved to be costly. "If we can match that performance at Stamford Bridge and have the courage to get forward when we are in possession, then who knows what might happen? "We were disappointed in many respects with the outcomes at Chelsea and Liverpool because we had good chances in both games early on. Had we taken those opportunities, then the results might have been a lot different in both instances."

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Football Writer. Stratford AFC Goalkeeper. Writing articles, interviews, analysis, reviews and anything else that comes up.