English Premier League Preview – Manchester United vs Stoke Prediction – October 02, 2016 – Old Trafford Stadium
Jose Mourinho's exclusion of Wayne Rooney from the Starting XI seemed to have breathed life into proceedings at Old Trafford on Saturday. Paul Pogba lived up to his billing of £89 million when he scored his first goal of the season and assisted in two more in United's thumping win of 4-1 over Leicester City. Rashford, Ibrahimovic and Mata looked fluid as ever. Even defender-cum-skipper Chris Smalling showed immense eagerness in moving upfront and got his first goal since the 2014-15 season. A normally off-color Jesse Lingard was also in his elements.
Come Sunday's clash with Stoke City, Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be back from his injury spell to strengthen the United mid-field further. Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial also are on the verge of making an entry this weekend.
A Martial-Rashford-Ibrahimovic combine, if in full flow, could spell havoc for any opposition defense and that is one area where their opponents, Stoke City, couldn't have come worse off. They have hemorrhaged as many as 15 goals this season and have yet to win a game. This explains why they are in the 19th spot on the EPL table.
As far as scoring is concerned, even with folks like Shaqiri and Arnautovic, they have managed barely four goals from their six outings so far.
Things seem to be on the mend with the arrival of striker Wilfried Bony, on loan from Manchester City. Shaqiri, Joe Allen, Arnautovic, Crouch and Krkic seem to be getting their act together as evinced in the 1-1 draw against West Brom in which the Potters dominated.
However no one gives them a chance in the October 2 clash and the betting odds seem to tell a similar story, although astonishingly Stoke have won 2 and drawn one of their last five encounters with United since 2014. But then, for the Red Devils, those were dismal days under coach David Moyes. Things have changed a lot for the better since then.
For Manchester United a win on Sunday is essential to catapult them to the ranks of the Top Four. Presently at the sixth place on the table, they are a point behind Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton.