skip to content
Nzonzi out for Stoke
Stoke will be without midfielder Steven Nzonzi for the visit of Manchester United on Saturday.
Nzonzi was sent off for two bookable offences at Sunderland in midweek and serves a one-game suspension.
Home debuts are possible for forwards Peter Odemwingie and John Guidetti, with the latter used sparingly since arriving from Manchester City on loan.
David Moyes must decide whether to include Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in his Manchester United line-up.
The pair both made their comebacks from thigh and groin problems respectively in Tuesday's win over Cardiff, but Moyes will not want to risk either man if not 100 per cent.
Marouane Fellaini is nearing full fitness after wrist surgery, while Nemanja Vidic serves the final game of a three-match suspension.
Moyes put the 'closed for business' sign up at Manchester United just after lunchtime on transfer deadline day insisting he felt far more in control than the hectic final few hours in August.
Moyes' first transfer window as United manager ended in chaos, with bids flying in for various players including one for Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao that did not offer enough time for the Spain heavyweights to find a replacement, scuppering the entire deal.
The arrival of three men, who remain unknown to United chief executive Ed Woodward, at La Liga headquarters supposedly attempting to force through the transfer of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao exemplified the confusion, with Marouane Fellaini eventually arriving from Everton for B#27.5million minutes before the 11pm cut-off point.
This time around, a far more measured approach has been taken.
As Moyes predicted, the targets he was looking at have largely proved impossible to prise out of their present clubs.
Yet United were still able to make the biggest impact, splashing out a club record B#37.1million on Juan Mata last weekend.
"Yes," said Moyes, when asked whether he felt more in charge.
"But that is what we said; I would know more as we went along.
"I wasn't going to come into the club and be able to get all the players we felt we needed. But there were reasons for that.
"I had to make sure all the players had an opportunity to show me what they could do. It wasn't for me to come in and throw people out of the door.
"I had to be as fair as possible. We have got one, we will add more to it in time."
Mata has already had a positive impact, starting the move that led to United's opener against Cardiff on Tuesday.
Yet it was the man who converted the chance, Van Persie, who arguably has the potential to provide the Red Devils with their biggest boost over the second half of the season.
The two-time Golden Boot winner's 11-match absence has coincided with another sharp downturn in United's season.
And, as Moyes pointed out, Van Persie's contribution can be the significant difference in turning draws and defeats into victories.
"That is why you spend the most money on centre-forwards," said Moyes.
"They are the most valued and most talked-about players. They are the people who can make a big difference by sticking the ball into the net.
"Some of our performances have been quite good but the game is about winning. When you want to win, you need people like Robin van Persie, who will get you a goal.
"Did I think the performance the other night was better than many of the other games? Actually, no I didn't. What I had was people who could win me the game."
However, it is the knowledge of how critical such contributions can be that mean Moyes is wary of asking too much of Van Persie and Rooney, who had missed almost a month with a groin problem prior to his re-appearance as a substitute against Cardiff, and why they are not certain to start at Stoke.
"I need to be careful with them," said Moyes.
"We are more concerned about Robin because he's been out longer but we are mindful they're both coming back from injuries and have to make sure they're ready."
Nevertheless, Moyes has been able to take a more detached view of one of the most hectic days of the season, which the Scot sometimes feels takes on a life of its own, often from the most spurious of bases.
"I am surprised so many people believe so much of it," he said.
"I am a football fan. But I hear people picking up stories that we are after certain players when it is a load of rubbish.
"It is comic-book stuff."
© 2004 - 2015 football.co.uk