Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United face Stoke City on Tuesday night at Old Trafford. The Red’s go into the game on the back of three straight victories and will be looking to add a fourth to that tally as the challenge for a top four place gathers pace. Stoke City who are under the guidance of former United forward Mark Hughes succumbed to a narrow 1-0 loss against Liverpool on the weekend but should present a much sterner test than that of Hull City on Saturday.
Angel Di Maria is a major doubt for the game after limping of with a hamstring injury early on against Hull City. Daley Blind, Luke Shaw and Phil Jones are of course all still unavailable and the game may come just too soon for both Jonny Evans and Rafael Da Silva. Wayne Rooney who limped off the pitch following the final whistle on Saturday is expected to be available however. Here’s how the Red’s may line up on Tuesday night:
David De Gea will of course line-up in between the sticks on Tuesday. The Spaniard is on top of his game at the moment but expect him to have a slightly busier game than he did against Hull City.
I fully expect Louis Van Gaal to name the same back four which kept the clean sheet against The Tigers on Saturday. Rafael Da Silva is now back in full training but the game will probably have come to soon for him so Antonio Valencia will continue at right-back. With Luke Shaw out injured Ashley Young will continue to occupy the left-back spot, the Englishman may well have a lot more work to do defensively than he did on the weekend.
At centre back Chris Smalling had a comfortable game on Saturday on the back of his impressive showing against Arsenal so he will keep his place in the side. Alongside him Marcos Rojo will undoubtedly feature again after successfully returning from his shoulder injury on the weekend.
Michael Carrick was back to his very best in a united shirt on the weekend, the Englishman made over 100 passes in the 90 minutes and had a pass succession rate of 92%. He will be one of the first names on the team sheet tomorrow. Alongside the 33-year-old I also expect Maroune Fellaini to keep his place in the side. He too had another decent game and surprisingly seemed to cope well in a free flowing United set-up, often having to occupy a wider role on occasions.
With Angel Di Maria limping off against Hull City, Ander Herrera had a chance to impress and he did just that. The Spaniard won the man of the match award and as a result he will more than likely take his place in the starting eleven tomorrow night. Then, with Di Maria unavailable I expect Juan Mata to retain his place in the side, playing a slightly more advance midfield role.
All being well and Wayne Rooney is fit enough to start then the club captain of course will start. The 29-year-old is on the top of his game at the moment and has netted 4 goals in his last 3 games for both club and country. He continues to defy his critics.
It will be interesting to see who lines-up alongside Rooney tomorrow however. Van Persie scored a brilliant goal against Hull City and Louis Van Gaal will be keen to give the striker another game to regain more confidence and get him firing again on all cylinders. however, there are question marks as to whether the Dutchman can manage two games in such short succession and with Radamel Falcao getting twenty minutes under his belt on the weekend he might be tempted to go with the ex-Atletico Madrid man. This is a hard one to call.
Predicted Starting XI:
Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Young;
Rooney (C), Van Persie.