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Stoke v Manchester United: Predicted XI

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Manchester United are looking to keep their unbeaten run going when they play their third game in seven days against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on New Year's Day.

The Red Devils haven't tasted defeat since their derby loss against Manchester City in November, and a win against Mark Hughes' side is needed if they are to retain the gap to their rivals in the race for Champions League qualification.

Victory

They currently sit in third place but only five points separate them from Tottenham down in seventh, so a loss tomorrow could be particularly damaging indeed.

Midfielder Ander Herrera is back in training this week but it remains unclear as to whether the Spaniard is fit enough to start against Stoke. A place on the bench seems to be the most likely outcome.

Injuries

Angel di Maria, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are still out of action for the foreseeable future and won't feature, while Luke Shaw was a late substitute in the 0-0 draw against Tottenham on Sunday and could be in line to start.

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For Stoke, Bojan Krkic is a doubt after picking up a hamstring strain while former Manchester United man Phil Bardsley is also likely to miss out.

Criticism

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been vocal in his criticism of the hectic festive fixture list, and claimed the second half of the draw against Spurs - which came two days after their win over Newcastle - was more of a 'struggle for life' than a football game.

With that in mind the Dutchman will likely mix things up from the game at White Hart Lane, but is also likely to retain the 3-5-2 formation that has suited his side so well recently. The fact that Antonio Valencia limped off in that game and is also a doubt could complicate matters.

Record

The Red Devils have a superb record against Stoke since the Potters gained promotion to the top flight having won 13 of 15 encounters. There is a glimmer of hope for the home side however in that their only win came just 11 months ago at the Britannia Stadium.

It was Manchester United who emerged victorious earlier this season thanks to goals from goals from Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, although in truth the Red Devils were lucky to escape with all three points

Manchester United Predicted XI

De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Evans, Rafael, Shaw, Carrick, Mata, Rooney, Wilson, Van Persie

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Topics:
Stoke City
Manchester United
Premier League
Football

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