By Mark Weasley
Manchester United host Stoke City this night at Old Trafford knowing that a win over the Potters would cut Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table to 12 points after Guardiola’s men lost a pulsating tie against Liverpool 4-3 at Anfield over the weekend. We are level on points with Chelsea and Liverpool but a win against a Stoke side currently battling relegation fears could put daylight between us and the chasing pack.
Stoke recently fired Mark Hughes and replaced him with Paul Lambert who will be in the stands for this clash. After a warm weather camping in Dubai, United will be invigorated to take up the challenge of ending the season on a flourish. We take a look at manager, Jose Mourinho’s probable lineup for the Monday night clash at Old Trafford.
David De Gea would be expecting to be in goal as he looks to win his 13th clean sheet of the season. The 27-year-old Spanish international has been imperious in goal for the Red Devils this season, and will be confident of stopping Stoke who have been blunt in front of goal this campaign.
Antonio Valencia is expected to return to the starting eleven after being injured for some weeks. The Ecuadorian has maintained a level of consistency this term and has regularly skippered the side in the absence of Michael Carrick. In the heart of defence, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have formed an excellent partnership in the absence of Eric Bailly. At left back, Luke Shaw is expected to retain his place in the side as he is looking at re-establishing himself as the first choice left back after a couple seasons out with form and injury.
The pair of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba are expected to form a pivot in the middle of the park. Both players have struck a relationship on the pitch and will offer solidity and poise in the heart of midfield. Further forward, in the right attacking midfield role should be Juan Mata who has impressed recently. In the number 10 role, Lingard will be looking to continue his recent goalscoring fork that has seen him score 8 times in his last 10 appearances.
In the left wing role, Anthony Martial has usurped Marcus Rashford in the pecking order and will be looking to impress given that we are being linked to Alexis Sanchez.
Romelu Lukaku is expected to be in the starting eleven once again as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still out injured and not in line to return to first team football soon.
Probable lineup: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Martial, Lingard, Mata, Lukaku.