Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday September 25 2009
25th Sept 2009
Hot on the heels of the visit of Chelsea to the Brit two weeks ago, we now entertain the League Champions. We took Chelsea to the wire then and United should expect nothing less from a Stoke side that's more than a handful on home soil.
Neither manager is underestimating the task ahead of them. United will not want any potential banana skins, but equally Tony Pulis will want to ensure that his players are ready to do battle. Skipper, Abdoulaye Faye know what needs to be done after United's last second fight-back at Old Trafford last weekend:
'You have to maintain your mental and physical sharpness right until the last kick of the game at this level or you get punished, and no team is better at doing that than the reigning Premier League champions'
Doubts surround Stoke's forward line with James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller still struggling after the Bolton match last week and Ric's early departure with a groin injury on Tuesday night. But it's likely that Pulis will again sacrifice a player up front to bolster his defence as he did in the Chelsea match, a plan which was within seconds of achieving a point. This will probably allow Dave Kitson another start with Tuncay having to make do with the bench again. Rory Delap will be celebrating his 400th career start along with Tony Pulis who will make his 150th game in charge of the Potters.
Whilst most eyes will be on the Stoke defence, Stoke fans will be hoping that Dave Kitson can notch up at least his fourth goal of the season.
Alex Ferguson is not likely to take any chances of an upset and will field his strongest possible side. The main question is whether he gives another chance to former Stoke reserve keeper, Ben Foster after the blame for a couple of goals recently have been laid at his door. If he does play, it will be the second time he's played at the Brit since moving to Old Trafford - the first being when Watford visited (where he spent time on loan) back in 2005.
The Liverpudlian was frustrated at every turn in the same fixture on Boxing Day last year and will hopefully get more of the same this time around.
Hopefully Howard Webb will be strong enough to dismiss any antics from United and to ignore any wannabee referees in the visitors' dug-out.
Sunday 4th October: Everton (away) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 17th October: West Ham (home) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday September 25 2009
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