Manchester United have made a perfect start to their 2017/18 Premier League campaign, claiming three wins, ten goals and conceding none, but it will count for little if they once again falter following the international break.
Jose Mourinho’s men will begin a crucial month comprising of seven games in 22 days with a stern acid test against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium. United’s last Premier League win there came through goals from Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie during the latter stages of their triumphant 2012/13 campaign under Sir Alex Ferguson and another convincing display at what has been something of a bogey ground ever since would send an emphatic message to the rest of the division.
Ander Herrera has been consigned to the bench so far this season with Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba boldly orchestrating proceedings in the middle against West Ham United, Swansea City and Leicester, playing just five minutes of Premier League football, but with Jese Rodriquez and Xherdan Shaqiri set to feature as inverted wingers in a three at the back system, Mourinho will likely call on his indefatigable influence at the base of midfield on Saturday. Matic has been an intractable force in front of the defence so far this season but will need the Spaniard’s legs as an accompaniment to stem the tide and allow Pogba the chance to inflict damage going forward.
But the first name on the team-sheet will be Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian has been the creative nucleus of United’s effervescent start to the campaign, claiming five assists in three games, and looks genuinely capable of posing a consistent threat at No.10 with the crafty Juan Mata on his right and Marcus Rashford stretching defenders on the left hand side.
And with that in mind, here is our predicted XI for the clash with Stoke on Saturday afternoon.