Monday, 1 December 2014

STOKE VISIT ON A COLD TUESDAY NIGHT

There's a funny-odd metaphorical belief among Premier League fans that the true measure of a capable footballer is performing at your usual level on a cold night at Stoke. The essence is around the fact that the Brittannia is infamous for its elements and gale conditions that effectively alter the natural traits of a game of football. In absolute monsoon winds, it will rain, hail, and if you're unlucky snow, all in a 90minute episode in which you are still expected to control, pass and shoot the ball as though you're playing in a closed door stadium on artificial grass.

Thank goodness then that it is Stoke that make the visit and not us. At Old Trafford, United have everything going for them to subdue Stoke over 90 minutes.
The 3-0 success at home against Hull made it a first three on the bounce for the first time this season and maintained Champions League status. The expectation will be there tomorrow to keep that run going if only because we're at home.

Whereas we managed to notch up a first away win in London last week, it's at home that our season has been built so far. With 2 home games in quick succession, it is an opportunity to inch away from the sides immediately below us and eat into Southampton's lead over us. We're now 4 points off the Saints which means if results go our way over the next 2 rounds of fixtures, we could be third by Monday next week.

That though is a permutation that is hugely dependent on the result tomorrow night. Stoke will offer more fight than Hull did. They'll be better defensively and more potent on the counter attack. They're one of the lesser sides with a measure of the big boys and so they can go to the Etihad and win. In some ways therefore, you hope the standards will not have dropped given the stroll in the park the boys had on Saturday.

Injuries mean that it's difficult to keep the same line-up at the weekend, but given the performance, you suspect that the only changes that will be made will be enforced. But like Saturday, regardless of the team that goes out, the expectation will be to pick up all three points and make it 4 wins on the trot.

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