STOKE CITY

v

MANCHESTER UNITED

Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
October 24, 2010; 6:00 PM IST – Live on ESPN

Manchester United travel to Stoke at the end of one of most eventful weeks during Sir Alex’s reign at the club. With Wayne Rooney’s transfer saga well and truly over, with the striker signing a new contract, the manager would be hoping that his players would have their focus on the game and claim what could be their first away win in the league this season.

May 16, 2009 - Manchester, ., United Kingdom - Premier League: Manchester United 0 V 0 Arsenal - .Manchester United's manager SIR ALEX FERGUSON congratulates WAYNE ROONEY after winning the title Photo via NewscomSaga ends in friendship

Stoke City have recovered from a rather disappointing start to the campaign, winning three of their last five games to take them to the top half of the table. However, they have been found wanting in front of goal, having found the target only nine times this season – the least times amongst the teams in the top ten.

Ricardo Fuller faces a late fitness test ahead of the game, after being rushed to the hospital following an awkward fall during Stoke’s last game against Bolton. Experienced goal-keeper Thomas Sorensen is expected to keep his place in goal, despite his error in the build-up to the goal in the last match. Mamady Sidibe continues to be a long term absentee while Dean Whitehead is suspended following his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend.

Manchester United, on the other hand, will be hoping to end their drought on away soil this season, having only gathered four points from four away games this season. Although they are the only undefeated team in the league, the Red Devils would be hoping to bring their title bid back on track, after dropping more points from winning positions than they did in whole of the last season.

Although Rooney has decided to stay at Old Trafford, he is still unavailable for selection following an ankle injury suffered in training, which rules out the striker for three weeks. Ryan Giggs is also out with a hamstring injury incurred last week against West Brom. Owen Hargreaves is still not fully fit to make it to the squad, while Antonio Valencia is a long term absentee. The likes of Van der Sar, Scholes and Berbatov are set to return, after being rested for the Champions League game in midweek.

Probable Starting Line-ups

Stoke: Sorensen, Shawcross, Huth, Faye, Collins, Pennant, Etherington, Delap, Diao, Fuller, Jones

Manchester United: Van Der Sar, O’ Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Nani, Berbatov, Hernandez

Football Fans Know Better

Key Match Facts

1) Stoke fancy scoring in the 48th minute, having done that in three of their last four matches.
2) The Potters have hit the woodwork 9 times – the most by any team in the league.
3) United last lost to Stoke in 1984.
4) Red Devils last failed to win their first four away games in 1989.

TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For

Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City)
The lanky striker is already proving to be a very good signing for Stoke City. The 8-million-pound man has already scored four goals for the Potters and is always a constant threat for the opponent’s defence. Ferdinand and Vidic could find difficulties to deal with the Trinidadian forward.

Stoke City's Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, September 13, 2010.  REUTERS/Darren Staples  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)Leaping High

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Stoke City 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester United will be upbeat after the turn of events last week and will grind out their first away win of the season.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST