Stoke pile pressure on van Gaal after victory
26th December 2015 12.45pm
Stoke brushed aside a lacklustre Manchester United to take all three points in the early Boxing Day kick off.
First half goals from Bojan and Marko Arnautovic set Stoke on their way to their second ever Premier League victory against Louis van Gaal`s men.
It wasn`t all plain sailing for the Potters, as England international goalkeeper Jack Butland was forced into a number of top draw saves, but Stoke still condemned Man Utd to their fourth straight defeat and piled the pressure on Man Utd`s Dutch manager.
Mark Hughes made one change to the side that lost to Crystal Palace, as Marco van Ginkel dropped to the bench as the fit again Geoff Cameron returned.
The American`s energy and ability to compete with Marouane Fellaini proved a catalyst for Stoke to grab a strangle hold on the game.
Louis van Gaal dropped Captain Wayne Rooney as Andrea Herrera came into the starting eleven, but the selection chose didn`t have the desired effect as Herrera was caught in possession numerous times, and his passing was wayward as Stoke took the early initiative.
The Potters took the lead when Geoff Cameron picked the ball up on the right flank and managed to expertly turn Fellaini before trying to chip the ball into the overlapping Johnson. The American`s pass seemed to be a tame effort, but Dutchman Memphis Depay made a hash of attempted header back to his goalkeeper. Glen Johnson stole in and calmly found Bojan, who took a touch before poking the ball in between the covering defenders legs on the line.
The travelling United fans were silenced by their sides start and it soon got worse, as Marko Arnautovic expertly controlled the rebound of Bojan`s free kick and fired home from 25 yards with a thunderous shot that flew past David de Gea.
The Austrian forward day nearly got better as he managed to time his run expertly and bring the ball into his stride following an inch-perfect through ball by Bojan, but the finish this time was lacking as he screwed his shot wide whilst one-on-one with the Red Devils keeper.
The disappointing Memphis Depay nearly dragged van Gaal`s team back into the game but his free kick was saved by Butland and the rebound from Fellaini was hit straight at Butland although the Belgian was offside.
United came out in the second half with a little more impetus as Rooney replaced Depay, but they could not find a breakthrough that could have ignited a comeback.
Fellaini, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata were all denied by the impressive Butland as it looked likely that the ball was destined for the net on each occassion.
Stoke held out for another victory against the so called bigger teams as Chelsea and Man City have already fell foul to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium this campaign.