Stoke – Manchester United (Capital One Cup)
Manchester United lead into Britannia on Wednesday hopping this League Cup quarter-final becomes another step in the path that will bring them back to the top. But Mark Huges is betting hard in the competition and Stoke will certainly have a thing or two to say.
It’s the fifth time Stoke City reaches the Capital One Cup quarter-finals. To get here they have beaten Walsall 3-1, Tranmere Rovers 0-2 and Birmingham. This last one went all the away to the penalty shots but finally the Potters came out on top (4-4 in overtime, 2-4 on penalties). They sit at 13th place in the Premier League table and head into this fixture after to draws and a win, the later to non-other than Chelsea (3-2). Matthew Etherington and Robert Huth are ruled out due to injury. Charlie Adam is back.
Probable line-up: Sorensen – Cameron, Wilson, Shawcross, Muniesa – Arnautovic, Whelan, Palacios, N’Zonzi, Assaidi – Crouch.
Manchester United are 8th with 25 points, 10 adrift from Arsenal. Not exactly the place you envision the defending Champions to be in. David Moyes is paying the price of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson and non-existing Summer signings. Prior to last weekend’s 0-3 victory over Aston Villa they suffered back-to-back home losses to Everton and Newcastle United. The media started a search for the next Red Devils Boss. Moyes capacities were questioned, some of United players were deemed unfit for the shirt they wore. Villa bought them some time to breath, or should we say Valencia did? The Equadorian epitomized all that was right in Man United’s game. He brought more than his athleticism to the play. He fed his team-mates with quality crosses and uncomplicated moves. To be fair the all team played in a pace they have not been familiar with this season. But Valencia’s performance was instrumental in leading United the right way from the start. The squad could use his form to continue their upturn, but he will have to do it consistently. To get to the last 8 Manchester United defeated Liverpool 1-0 and Norwich City 4-0.
Hernandez and Kagawa will be in contention. It’s not clear yet if it’s to soon for Nemaja Vidic. Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling and Fellaini remain in the sidelines. Robbie van Persie is the most recent blow for United’s expectations. He will be out for at least a moth.
Probable line-up: Lindegaard – Rafael, Jones, Evans, Buttner – Cleverly, Anderson – Valência, Rooney, Januzaj – Welbeck.
Stoke City and Manchester United already faced each other this season. In October, at Old Trafford, the Potters fell to the Red Devils 3-2. Robbie van Persie, Wayne Rooney and “Chicharito” netted for the home team, Peter Crouch and Marko Arnautovic left their mark for the visitors. Keep in mind that United have scored 3 or more goals in 4 of their last 5 Capital One Cup ties and also that the Stokes have conceded more against their next opposition than to any other Premier League team. A match made in heaven?