Competition: Premier League – Stoke City vs. Manchester United
Venue: The Britannia Stadium – Saturday, December 26 – 12:45 GMT (07:45 ET)
Match Odds: Stoke 21/10 – Draw 21/10 – Man United 11/8
Both sides will be desperate to take three points from this one but there is undoubtedly more pressure on Manchester United, and Louis Van Gaal in particular, as failure to win here could cost the Dutch manager his job.
Van Gaal has not seen his United side win in six games in all competitions and back-to-back Premier League defeats have seen the Red Devils fall out of the top four at the midpoint of the campaign.
A 2-1 home defeat to Norwich last weekend was a terrible result and if United perform as badly here, Stoke will surely seal all three points.
The Potters have enjoyed a solid season so far but will be disappointed not to be in the top half of the table at Christmas. They beat Manchester City 2-0 at the start of the month in a fine display but have drawn at West Ham and then lost to Crystal Palace since then.
Mark Hughes will be desperate to see Stoke rally to beat United for just the second time in Premier League history here and the home crowd will no doubt make it a tough afternoon for the visitors.
Stoke have six injury worries ahead of the meeting with Manchester United. Geoff Cameron and Marc Muniesa are both ruled out, as are Shay Given, Stephen Ireland, Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch. Former United striker Mame Biram Diouf could return to the side to spearhead the attack.
Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal is under immense pressure and so changes are expected in what is a must-win game for the Dutch coach. Bastian Schweinsteiger will miss out as he serves the final match of his three-game suspension, while midfield partner Morgan Schneiderlin is a doubt as he struggles with a hip injury. Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are all definitely out through injury.
Stoke’s last five: W/L/W/D/L
Manchester United’s last five: W/D/D/L/L
Key Stat: Stoke have only beaten Manchester United in one of their last 16 meetings in all competitions.
Key Player: Marko Arnautovic – The Austrian attacker is often inconsistent but put on a fine display when Stoke beat Manchester City 2-0 at the start of the month. If he can perform to those levels here, United will be in trouble.
Stoke 2-1 Manchester United – This should be a full charged and competitive match between two sides desperate to win. It will be interesting to see how the United players perform, considering the pressure their manager is under, but the home side have to be favoured based on the poor form United find themselves in.