The image of a cavalry rescuing David Moyes and United was almost inevitable on Tuesday evening. As Robin Van Persie returned from an injury lay-off and Juan Mata made his debut since joining from Chelsea for £37m, the duo shone to guide United to victory over Cardiff, with Van Persie getting on the score-sheet while Mata added to his impressive assists stats as the Spanish World Cup winner set up Ashley Young to hit a stunning striker past David Marshall. However, Moyes could unleash the trio of Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Mata at the Britannia Stadium in an attempt to turn their faltering campaign on its head.
Rooney made his return from a groin problem which has kept him out of New Years' Day on Tuesday night as he replaced Van Persie on the hour-mark and is in line to start for the trip to struggling Stoke City.
The Potters are also in dire need of the points as they sit two points from the relegation zone, thanks to a run of six league games without a win while losing their last three league encounters.
Mark Hughes's men were beaten by fellow struggles Sunderland on Wednesday night despite enjoying most of the play and they will have to be much more efficient and clinical for the visit of a rejuvenated United side.
However, securing victory over United is easier said than done - Stoke have not beaten the 20-time champions in the league since 1984.
Moyes has twice this season masterminded victories over Stoke, with the Old Trafford outfit coming up trumps 3-2 in the league and 2-0 in the League Cup quarter-final at the Britannia Stadium.
Mark Hughes will be without Steven N'Zonzi who serves a one-match suspension following his dismissal on Wednesday, while Robert Huth (knee), Andy Wilkinson (heel) and Matthew Etherington are all injury doubts.
Marouane Fellaini (wrist) could return for United, but Rio Ferdinand is unlikely to feature and Micheal Carrick (ankle) and Nani (hamstring) remain sidelined.
Serb defender Nemanja Vidic serves the final game of his three match ban.