The international break is now over and Premier League fans can turn their full attention to building momentum ahead of the busy festive period.
Yes it is only September but it will be December before we know it and both Stoke City and Manchester United will want to pick up as many points as possible in the coming months.
For the Potters, a top half finish would suffice – Mark Hughes’ men struggled to inspire confidence last season and the Welshman will be keen to impress the Stoke board with just two years remaining on his contract.
At the other end of the spectrum, United are hoping to win the title for the first time since 2013. Two very different objectives but both ultimately with the same aim: success.
Stoke Still Made Of Stern Stuff
Hughes demanded a colossal effort from his side for Stoke’s opening home fixture of the season and his players did not disappoint.
Arsenal were well fancied against the Potters but Stoke were the better team on the day – Hughes’ men were full value for their victory. And now the Potters must raise their game once again for the visit of high-flying United...
In their most recent Premier League encounter, Stoke showed the kind of ‘never say die’ attitude that epitomised United’s glory years a decade or so ago.
The Potters bagged a late equaliser to end West Bromwich Albion’s 100% winning record and it is hard to back against Stoke on current form. At 17/10 to win OR draw in the double chance markets, the hosts are good value to pick up a positive result here.
Peter Crouch was the hero against West Brom but Jese Rodriguez, formerly of Real Madrid, scored against Arsenal on his home debut and another in this contest would go down well with the passionate home support.
Currently a 4/1 shot to score during 90 minutes, plenty of punters will be considering a wager on the Spaniard this weekend.
Visitors Set For International Hangover?
Backing this Manchester United side to score just once may seem stupid but this fixture will not be as straightforward as some are suggesting.
The Red Devils have scored two or more goals in just one of the last six trips to Stoke and Jose Mourinho will be wary of a United slipup in what could be a banana skin of an encounter for the visitors.
A number of United’s big names were in action for their respective national sides this week and this could prove detrimental to Mourinho’s plans.
While the Portuguese will have tried his hardest to ensure full focus and attention on Saturday’s clash, some may still be abroad – the Red Devils must prepare mentally for what could be a draining affair.
Romelu Lukaku bagged four goals in two international appearances for Belgium during the break and the new United striker is playing with real confidence right now.
United won’t have everything their own way in this contest – that is for sure. The Red Devils did just about enough to keep Leicester City at bay but Mourinho’s side may struggle to get going after the international break.
With the Potters looking to build on their home victory over Arsenal in August, expect another strong Stoke performance; United may be up against it in this clash. The draw looks tasty at 16/5...
STOKE CITY 1-1 MANCHESTER UNITED (priced at 13/2 with 888Sport)