Manchester United vs Stoke City – Predicted XI

by Tom Newbold

David de Gea – There is a possibility David Moyes will employ the same back five for the third consecutive game, starting with De Gea in goal.

Rafael – At his best, Rafael remains unchallenged at right-back for United.

Phil Jones – Assuming neither Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic are deemed 100% fit and ready, Moyes may continue with Phil Jones and Jonny Evans as his centre-back pairing.

Jonny Evans – The inclusion of Evans means Chris Smalling remains the third ‘young’ centre-back in the pecking order.

Patrice Evra – In recent games Evra has shown the importance of attacking down the left-side with players in front of him (Januzaj, Kagawa) who like to cut inwards.

stoke-homeNani – Despite an improved performance in midweek from Antonio Valencia, his good form appears to be limited to Europe making Nani the probable right-sided winger against Stoke. The flexibility of Nani is also important when considering the occasional immobility of the United central midfield.

Michael Carrick – Just as under Sir Alex Ferguson, it continues to be a case of ‘Carrick and a partner’ in central midfield for Manchester United.

Marouane Fellaini – Moyes has declared Fellaini will continue to play for the time being with a cast on his wrist, making the £27 million man the obvious candidate to be placed alongside Carrick on Saturday.

Adnan Januzaj – Without a disappointing performance to his name yet, another start is on the cards for the young Belgian.

Wayne Rooney – A deeper Rooney, as in midweek against Real Sociedad, will be key in terms of linking the midfield and attack and creating space.

Robin van Persie – David Moyes has appeared relatively confident that Van Persie will be fit enough to play on Saturday.

Formation: 4-4-1-1

Should United play more fluidly with a 4-4-1-1 formation, as opposed to a rigid 4-4-2, they will cause Stoke problems. The likely inclusion of Fellaini alongside Carrick has potential to be immobile but without the injured Tom Cleverley and a likely rest for Ryan Giggs after his midweek exertions, the only realistic alternative would be the more dynamic, yet erratic Anderson.

Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez both played well in midweek, but are unlikely to start again so soon. Appearances on the bench for the duo can be expected, with likely starts next week in the Capital One Cup.

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