Usually a tough trip to go to, Machester United travel to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium this Sunday to take on Tony Pulis' men. Fergie's team will be keen to get back on track after Monday's dissapointmeant against Manchester City, whilst Stoke City's form suggests they're currently looking below themselves in the table rather than up.
Sir Alex Ferguson will rally his team up and order them to produce a professional performance in their bid to bring home a 20th league crown.
In goal, David de Gea will start. The Spaniard had little to do against the Champions on Monday other than pick the ball out of his net twice. He had however gone 6 games without conceding in the Premier League for Manchester United. The Spaniard has looked impressive in recent weeks – and will need to be on top form for the end of season run in.
At right back Rafael keeps his place in the side. The Brazilian shrugged off a groin injury for a place in the side against City and looked good. The energetic Brazilian is a true asset down the right hand side for United. Nemanja Vidic was injured against Sunderland and failed to make the match day squad for Manchester City, with Fergie labelling it a 'nerve strain in his calf'. With the Serbian seemingly out – I'd like to see Phil Jones and Chris Smalling line up at the back against Stoke. Fergie has identified the duo as the future centre half parternship at Manchester United, and after Jones' impressive performance against City he could keep his place. Patrice Evra had an impressive game against Manchester City and could start this Sunday, although Alex Buttner has impressed with his performances this season.
Like many Manchester United fans, I can't get my head around why Sir Alex Ferugson plays Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs together in central midfield. The duo lacked physicallity, drive and energy against a determined City midfield on Monday – which is why I hope Carrick is partnered with Tom Cleverley in midfield. That's no dig at Ryan Giggs – who will rightfully go down as Manchester United's greatest ever player. But how Sir Alex Ferguson can expect a 39 year old to put on a match winning performance when he plays once a month is ridicuolous. Ashley Young seems to be Fergie's preferred left midfielder – and after Luis Nani's dismal performance against Chelsea in the FA Cup I expect Antonio Valencia to start at right midfield.
In attack Fergie should partner Wayne Rooney with Shinji Kagawa, giving Robin van Persie a much-needed rest. Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Wayne Rooney is the type of player who needs games – so it is essential Fergie has his talisman for what promises to be a hectic run in. This allows Kagawa to play his natural free-role, as well as offering Wayne Rooney the oppourtunity upfront to get a goal to his name.
Substitute's: Lindegaard, Hernandez, Welbeck, RVP, Nani, Anderson, Buttner
Prediction: Stoke City 0 – 2 Manchester United
Predicted Line Up: David De Gea; Rafael, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Shinji Kagawa, Wayne Rooney.
David De Gea
Rafael Jones Smalling Evra
Valencia Carrick Cleverley Young