Stoke City will be out to cause a New Year upset and repeat last season's victory over Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium, while United are looking to build on their promising opening half of the campaign with their third win on the road this season.
To be played on Thursday 1st January 2015 at 12:45. Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Odds: Stoke 16/5, Draw 13/5, Man Utd Evens
Stoke City have enjoyed the festive period so far with back-to-back victories over Everton and West Bromwich Albion which have lifted them to within a point of the top half of the Premier League.
United have won against two contenders for the top four on the road this season in Arsenal and Southampton, but have struggled when visiting any other ground so far this campaign. They are in third place, three points ahead of fourth and fifth place [Southampton and Arsenal], and an early win with two rivals for the Champions League places playing against each other would put the pressure on a little.
Bojan is likely to be a big absence for the Potters with a hamstring injury, but Mame Diouf had the rub of the green against West Bromwich Albion lately, and could have found more confidence in front of goal.
There was a rarity for the visitors against Tottenham last time out as they just couldn't find a way to score, and the chances are they won't be so wasteful in front of goal this time.
A win for the home side could move them into the top half and lead to United coming under pressure from the sides below them, but a win for the visitors would be significant given several sides in contention for the Champions League places are playing each other.
“We're just out of the top ten but we're in shouting distance having just come through a difficult run of fixtures. Well actually we're still in the middle of it with Man United and then Arsenal away coming up. We're really pleased with where we are now with what the fixture computer threw up for us.”
“After seven wins in a row and two draws, we're unbeaten for several weeks, but we can still improve. That's more important, we can improve, and we have to improve.”
Louis Van Gaal
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