Reds’ rallying cry for Stoke clash



Sir Alex Ferguson has backed his squad to recover from FA Cup defeat at Anfield just three days ago, with the Scot’s Manchester United side facing Stoke City at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. The fixture offers Ferguson’s side a rapid opportunity to put the loss in Liverpool to one side and continue the pursuit of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Yet, with 11 players likely to be on the sidelines for Tuesday’s fixture, Ferguson’s side must recover the hard way against a typically committed Stoke outfit.

United’s record against Stoke at Old Trafford – eight wins in a row dating back to 1981 – suggests a routine three points. But with Ferguson’s players once again bruised by crushing defeat at the weekend, the Scot will do well to raise his troop’s spirits. Indeed, it is a season in which ‘recovery’ has been discussed far too often for some supporters’ liking: after heavy defeat to Manchester City in the league, when United crashed out of Europe, and now FA Cup disappointment.

Yet, Stoke, says Ferguson are unlikely to give United an easy ride at Old Trafford despite the poor record over the past 30 years in the Reds’ back yard.

“You know what Tony Pulis’ teams are like, they’re always the same with one hundred per cent commitment,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

“They all get stuck in and you have to cope with that. I quite enjoy that. When we used to play Wimbledon, at the beginning when they first came into our division, nobody enjoyed playing against them. But then I started and my team started to enjoy it because it was a challenge, a physical challenge in the way they played and a physical challenge in terms of trying to take control of the possessions and play your football.

“Stoke are a different team altogether from Wimbledon, obviously, but they still have the same quality of never giving in; they keep going, so it’s a good challenge for us.”

Manchester United versus Stoke City, Premier League, Old Trafford, Tuesday 31 January 2012, 8pm.Ferguson is again without half a squad’s worth of injured players. Long-term injury victims Tom Cleverley, Michael Owen, Darren Fletcher, Fábio da Silva and Nemanja Vidic are definitely out. Meanwhile, United will also be missing Ashley Young, Nani, and Rio Ferdinand, while Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones are unlikely to be risked.

Uncertainty also surrounds Ferguson’s choice of goalkeeper. While the much criticised David de Gea phoned in sick this week, Anders Lindegaard left training  in a protective boot on Monday. The crisis may mean a recall to the squad for the long forgotten Pole Tomasz Kuszazck, who had been widely expected to leave the club this transfer window. Reserve Ben Amos could start.

Despite the ongoing injury crisis Ferguson maintained an upbeat mood this week, backing his players – especially the club’s much maligned midfield – to drive United towards a 20th domestic title come May. Indeed, in Tom Cleverley significant strategic hope is being placed, with United having failed to sign a midfielder of note for the past four seasons.

“Cleverley is doing a lot of running. He’s nowhere near the first team at the moment but he’s doing a lot of running,” confirmed Ferguson of the midfielder who has played just 58 minutes football since 10 September.

“Michael Carrick’s form has been unbelievable – he’s been playing fantastic – and we’ll also have Giggs, Scholes, Cleverley and Anderson, so that’s a great group of midfield players that will definitely help us. He’ll be a terrific boost. It will be great to get the boy back because I think he’s special.

“I expect (Young) to start training in the middle of the week, so he’s on his way back. Cleverley is two weeks behind that. Anderson will be ready this week, too. He’ll start training with us on Monday or Tuesday and then it gives me a collection of midfield players that should cope with anything that happens in the run-in.”

Meanwhile, Stoke arrive in decent form, some 12 points beyond the relegation zone, safety already assured for another season. But Pullis may be without winger Matthew Etherington who has a groin injury. Cameron Jerome could make his first start of the year after scoring last week.

Yet, for all Stoke’s progress the focus is squarely on whether United can remain in touch at the top of the Premier League. With Manchester City away at Everton there is a realistic chance that Ferguson’s men will gained ground on the Blues. But to do that, United must overcome both mass injury and the obvious disappointment of the past week.

“Every player at this club knows what’s expected. When you’re at Manchester United you know defeats like that aren’t acceptable. We don’t need anybody else to tell us that. We know it deep down,” adds defender Jonny Evans.

“We’ve played really well against Stoke in the last few games, both at home and away. I think we’ve dealt particularly well with their long throw-ins. There isn’t much of a run-up at Old Trafford on the side of the pitch, which will probably help us. We’ve beaten them comfortably over the last few seasons but they’re improving all the time and nobody ever looks forward to playing against Stoke.

“They have a different approach to the way most teams play. People have this preconception of them and think that because they’re a big side they’re a dirty side. But that’s not the case at all. I think they’re hard but fair and Tony Pulis goes out of his way to make sure they don’t cross that line.”

And that may well be a relief to the few remaining United players not yet injured! Yet, there is no doubt the fixture is pivotal to United’s hopes of silverware this season. Indeed, it is the first time in the Premier League era that United has been out of the Champions League and FA Cup by this stage of the season. Anything less than a comfortable win tonight is unthinkable.

Match Facts
Manchester United versus Stoke City, Premier League, Old Trafford, Tuesday 31 January 2012, 8pm.

Potential Line-ups
United (4-4-1-1): Amos; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Park; Hernández, Welbeck. Subs from: Kuszazck, Fryers, Cole, Giggs, Lingard, Pogba, Keane, Berbatov.

Stoke (4-5-1): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Pennant, Palacios , Whitehead, Delap, Walters; Crouch. Subs from: Begovic, Wilkinson, Whelan, Jones, Fuller, Etherington, Jerome.

Performance Stats

  • United kept pace with league leaders City with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the last Premier League game at the Emirates;
  • Michael Carrick covered the most ground for United in that game with 6.06 miles, while Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck scored for the Reds;
  • Valencia’s goal was just his second of the season, but the winger has also contributed an impressive eight assists;
  • Valencia has the joint second highest number of assists and the fourth best minutes per assist in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, with one every 139 minutes;
  • Ryan Giggs has the best minutes per assist rate in the league, with an assist every 117 minutes (seven in total);
  • Welbeck’s goal was his sixth of the season in the Premier League from 34 attempts. He has achieved 74 per cent of shots on target, the third best percentage on target (among players who have had more than twenty efforts at goal);
  • Nani has now delivered over 100 crosses for United (105), topping the Index, 28 crosses ahead of second place Sebastian Larsson;
  • Meanwhile, Stoke’s last Premier League outing was a 2-1 defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion;
  • Peter Crouch covered the most ground for Stoke in that game with 5.8 miles;
  • Cameron Jerome scored Stoke’s goal in that game – just his second Premier League strike of the campaign.

Form
United: LLWWWL
Stoke: DWWDLW

Officials
Referee: Mike Jones (Chester)
Assistants: P Kirkup, A Garratt
Fourth Official: C Foy

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  • sheesh

    I wonder if De Gea will start. We can’t afford any more fuck-ups.

  • madredmonkey

    sheesh said:
    I wonder if De Gea will start. We can’t afford any more fuck-ups.

    according to the paper he will lingard has a knock, will have to see. AMOS?

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    looking at that front four berbashite should probably start

  • han

    you started taking the happy pills haven’t you unc?
    berbs will not start a game this season even against shite like stoke
    he must have run over SAF’s dog pre season for his arse to stay on the bench so often this term
    SAF will bring him on in the 86th minute, you wait and see

  • han

    oops
    berbs in the starting 11 along with rio

  • sidney

    Amos

    Smalling
    Ferdinand
    Evans
    Evra

    Valencia
    Carrick
    Scholes
    Park

    Berbatov
    Hernandez

    SUBS: Kuszczak, Rafael, Fabio, Giggs, Pogba, W Keane, Welbeck

  • sidney

    De Gea either fucked, a bottlejob, or is being punished

    I hope Pogba comes on for Scholes after 60 minutes. Unlikely though, unless we’re 3-0 up

  • han

    stoke will hoof it up to jones and crouch and work on their corners
    amos is going to need protecting from those twats

  • madredmonkey

    Hi HAN, could be a long night.

  • han

    hi mad red
    hows tricks?

  • han

    de gea is ill? then why isn’t he at home instead of sitting in the freezing cold at OT?
    smells fishy me thinks

  • madredmonkey

    han said:
    hi mad red
    hows tricks?

    still trying to get over saturday, but 3 points will help .

  • sidney

    Scholes wins the ball with a clean tackle

    Anything is possible

  • han

    started slowly again ffs

  • brianofnazareth

    Any working soapcast?

  • sidney

    Scholes is ace

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    brianofnazareth said:
    Any working soapcast?

    Sopcast… 125505

    Working well

  • han

    sidney said:
    Scholes is ace

    aye he is but a sad fact that we have to rely on a 67 year old

  • sidney

    Shut the fuck up Tony Pulis ruining my stream with your gobbing off FFS

  • brianofnazareth

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Sopcast… 125505

    Working well

    Thanks mate!

  • han

    stoke taking the game to us thus far
    we don’t look very interested at the moment

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    part one sign teenage keeper for megaprice and throw in at the deep end when not ready, part two destroy his confidence at the first signs of difficulty, part three slowly and delibrately publically humiliate, part four sell at a substantial loss, part five watch as he becomes top draw spanish number one, part six sign given on free transfer

  • han

    preferred it when you were a miserable bastard

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    brianofnazareth said:
    Thanks mate!

  • han

    brianofnazareth said:
    Thanks mate!

    bender

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    oooooooooo Scholsey…

  • han

    shite hart laners 2-0 up already

  • sidney

    They’re a cunt to break down

    It’s going to have to come from a belter or a class move

  • madredmonkey

    swansea 1-0

  • han

    someone kick their arses

  • sidney

    Lots of scouse bashing from United fans

    Another rendition of murderers

  • han

    sweet pea is playing poorly
    swap him for welbeck at h/t

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Swansea up 1-0…

  • sidney

    Pulis, fucking hell, he’s telling each player what to do

    Let them get on with it FFS

  • bman

    ah carrick you fanny

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    That’s what Berbatov is brilliant at.

  • brianofnazareth

    sidney said:
    Pulis, fucking hell, he’s telling each player what to do

    Let them get on with it FFS

    I’ve got a commentator with a fucking speech impediment!! FFS

  • madredmonkey

    pen.

  • sidney

    Clear pen

  • han

    pen…yessssssssssss
    sweeeeeeeeeeeeet peaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • madredmonkey

    sweet pea.

  • sidney

    Scholes senses the run, plays a nice ball n all

  • bman

    Nice one. Clever pass by Scholesy, clever movement by Park.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Well taken.

  • brianofnazareth

    That’s fucks Stoke’s plans!

  • sidney

    Theres a bloke handcuffed to the goal at Goodison Park.

    The fuck???

  • han

    sidney said:
    Theres a bloke handcuffed to the goal at Goodison Park.

    The fuck???

    saha doesnt want to move to spurs

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Fuckin hell Scholesy…

  • bman

    Let’s put the Pog on in the second half.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    that goal was all hernandez, the pass by scholes, the run from park, the decision from the ref, the goal, all proof that hernandez is better than welbeck

    • DeadRevel

      … that was sarcasm right?

      Because Hernandez has done nothing in this game. his half sums him up… great finisher, average all round play.

      Berba has been good though.

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    At work so not watching. People just keep the updates coming.

    Oh, ignore Knobby. He is just being silly as usual.

    Knobby, behave yourself please!!

  • han

    carroll scores at wolves for the KKK

  • han

    Commenter said:
    … that was sarcasm right?

    Because Hernandez has done nothing in this game. his half sums him up… great finisher, average all round play.

    Berba has been good though.

    now you really have set unc’s arse on fire with that comment on berbs

  • sidney

    han said:
    carroll scores at wolves for the KKK

    2-0 to the racists
    Bellamy

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    I will soon be patronised and called a welbeck fanboy extraordinnaire for defending welbeck by individuals who defend hernandez no less vehemently yet with increasingly less credibility judging by what we’re seeing this season

  • han

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    I will soon be patronised and called a welbeck fanboy extraordinnaire for defending welbeck by individuals who defend hernandez no less vehemently yet with increasingly less credibility judging by what we’re seeing this season

    zzzzzzzz
    zzzzz
    zzzzzzz
    zzzzz

  • bman

    Morrison’s transfer is official btw.

  • bman

    Nice work Tony V.

  • han

    pen….berbssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  • DeadRevel

    great pen from Berba.
    LEGEND.

  • sidney

    First gear this

    Stoke are shite away from home

    They only give it the big un at home

  • han

    lets improve the goal difference now

  • bman

    That’s 7 goals in 5 league starts for Berba. just sayin’…

  • sidney

    We might see the Pog now we’re comfortable

  • han

    bman said:
    That’s 7 goals in 5 league starts for Berba. just sayin’…

    whisper it man
    very quietly

  • bman

    Berba, what a battler.

  • bman

    Uh oh, Stoke have suddenly had the bright idea of testing our shite defence, this could turn things around for them…

  • sidney

    bman said:
    Uh oh, Stoke have suddenly had the bright idea of testing our shite defence, this could turn things around for them…

    Much easier to be adventurous when the game is already lost

  • han

    gibson scores for the toffees
    ffs lol

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    what’s wrong with rooney then

  • bman

    Gibsssooooooooooonnnnnnn

  • shauno

    The G-bomb!!!!

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    hehe fat irish gibastard

  • sidney

    There’s only one Darron Gibson, haha

    Mr and Mrs Charlton enjoyed that

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    bman said:
    Morrison’s transfer is official btw.

    What a dumb fuck…

    Oh well… if he’s that stupid… good riddance.

  • sidney

    We love you Everton

    That’s going too far

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    what’s wrong with rooney then

    Sprained his hair.

  • sidney

    That was a pen

    Ref bottled it

  • sidney

    POGBA

    THE MAN, THE HYPE

  • shauno

    Cole sent off

  • DeadRevel

    THERE’S ONLY ONEEEEEEE DARRON GIBSON!!!!!!!

  • bman

    Jaysus Park’s footballing quality really showed there with that “shot”.

  • bman

    Pog’s shown a bit of quality actually. Two decent crosses put in.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Swarming…

    Goal coming…

  • han

    stoke have played 100 games already this season since they started in may
    should really be ramming the goals in against them

  • sidney

    Pog looks less Crouch like then the last time I saw him
    He looks quite agile, quick off the mark and a decent turn for a lanky streak o’ nowt

  • sidney

    Top ball from Scholes

    Got it to hold up when it hit the turf

  • shauno

    Can cross a ball Pogba!

  • bman

    fucking hell, Berba

  • bman

    OK, c’mon Everton hold on.

  • han

    quality play by valencia
    getting better by the game
    shame we couldn’t improve the goal difference against shit stoke
    but never looked to get out of 2nd gear

  • sidney

    Job done

    I like Pogba

    Amos did well n all

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Fuck off Berbs… Valencias play deserved a goal.

  • madredmonkey

    well done United.

  • madredmonkey

    yes everton won.

  • sidney

    FT, Everton 1-0 City

  • DeadRevel

    Pogba’s looked very good.. impressive performance from the team. Should have been more. But can’t complain, Stoke never got a look in.

    EX REDS DO IT AGAIN! Fergie masterplan…. you know it. Only thing better than having United in the league is having two of them. :)

  • sheesh

    I can’t believe I sat in the freezing cold just to watch us score 2 penalties. Shite game. We didn’t play particularly brilliantly, Stoke turned up to spread their cheeks and allowed us to slip a length in.

    FFS. At least we won.

  • sidney

    sheesh said:
    I can’t believe I sat in the freezing cold just to watch us score 2 penalties. Shite game. We didn’t play particularly brilliantly, Stoke turned up to spread their cheeks and allowed us to slip a length in.

    FFS. At least we won.

    Talk about ungrateful

    Give me your ticket

  • sheesh

    sidney said:
    Talk about ungrateful
    Give me your ticket

    No, ungrateful is having a ticket and choosing not to go. There were a few empty seats near where I was sat.
    I had a spare for tonight as well tbf.

  • Pikey McScum

    sheesh said:
    No, ungrateful is having a ticket and choosing not to go. There were a few empty seats near where I was sat..

    Doesn’t that tell you something?

  • sheesh

    Pikey McScum said:
    Doesn’t that tell you something?

    I showered before leaving the house!

  • sidney

    sheesh said:
    No, ungrateful is having a ticket and choosing not to go. There were a few empty seats near where I was sat.

    I had a spare for tonight as well tbf.

    Dammit, why didn’t you tell me?! We could have sat and talked about the Tory’s during the boring bits of the match

  • Alfonso Bedoya

  • sheesh

    I could have done with the hot air last night

  • sheesh

    sidney said:
    Job done

    I like Pogba

    Amos did well n all

    Pogba looked silky. Keeper doesn’t convince me at all. He had little to do but still fumbled a simple stop in the second half. I remember him not playing well against wolves in a carling cup game. Can’t remember when it was.

    I would worry if amos gets the nod against rent boys.

  • Dinkinflicker

    It feels like a fucking long time since we had Edwin between the sticks.

  • http://www.sourceofgravity.com Bill

    The pig is playing for the reserves today. Match practice possibly for Sunday. Generally he hasn’t let us down when he’s come in.

  • han

    sheesh said:
    I showered before leaving the house!

    aye but you forgot to put your kegs on