Stoke v Man Utd preview

25 September 2009 10:27
Manchester United will be looking to make it five consecutive Premier League wins when they travel to Stoke on Saturday. The champions will still be flying high after their thrilling derby day win over Manchester City last weekend, while Sir Alex Ferguson made sure his top stars got a well deserved rest against Wolves in the Carling Cup in midweek. Despite seeing off the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and City in their last three league games United won't come up against much sterner opposition this season than Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. The Potters made the Britannia a fortress last term, taking 35 points from a possible 57 and losing just four times on home soil. The Red Devils managed a narrow 1-0 triumph at Stoke last year when Carlos Tevez settled a tight game in the 83rd minute after Potters defender Andy Wilkinson was sent off. Obviously, United no longer have the option to call on Tevez to take advantage of a tired defence but in Wayne Rooney they have a striker bang in form. The 23-year-old already has seven goals this term and seems to have taken it upon himself to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer. Stoke haven't beaten United for 16 years - although they have only played four times in that period - but under Pulis the Potters seem to have developed a never-say-die resilience. That attitude was best displayed against Blackpool in the Carling Cup third round on Tuesday when Stoke had to come from 2-0 down to defeat the Championship side 4-3 with the winning strike coming in the dying seconds. Ricardo Fuller was influential in the turnaround but he looks to be a major doubt for the clash with United. The striker came off the bench just after the hour mark with the Seasiders 2-0 down but within 16 minutes of his introduction he was firing Stoke into a 3-2 lead. Blackpool answered back immediately, but more telling for the Potters was the fact that Fuller was receiving treatment to a groin injury when Andy Griffin won it in injury time. James Beattie is also doubtful after he aggravated an ankle injury he initially picked up against Chelsea two weeks ago against Blackpool and he looks set to miss out altogether. If both frontmen fail to make it Pulis could recall Richard Cresswell to the attack to partner Dave Kitson. Robert Huth should keep his place at right-back despite Wilkinson recovering from the bout of food poisoning that kept him out of the 1-1 draw at Bolton. Striker Mamady Sidibe (knee) is still unavailable and is expected to be sidelined for another month. Meanwhile, Ferguson is set to stick with Ben Foster in goal despite his shaky display against City last week. Edwin van der Sar (hand) is still three weeks away from full fitness and although Tomasz Kuszczak performed well against Wolves on Wednesday Foster should keep his place. Rio Ferdinand came through the City game unscathed after it was believed he would miss the clash with a groin problem and he should start again. Owen Hargreaves is nearing a comeback after over a year out following knee surgery and is expected to be back in the next four weeks. Michael Owen started only his second game for United in midweek but he should move back to the bench to allow for Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov to come straight back in. Ferguson also has Paul Scholes back from suspension after he sat out of the derby following his dismissal in the 3-1 win over Spurs at White Hart Lane but Rafael (shoulder) and Gabriel Obertan (back) are still out. Possible starting XIs: Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Faye, Shawcross, Collins, Delap, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Kitson, Tuncay. Man Utd: Foster, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Giggs, Valencia, Fletcher, Anderson, Rooney, Berbatov.

Source: SKY_Sports