This season has started ridiculously well and you start to wonder whether it’s too good to be true. Five wins in five, despite being presented with a tricky start fixture wise, is a great achievement for the team.
After the standard of our football getting increasingly worse over the past couple of seasons, dragging ourselves through away games and putting ourselves in difficult situations on the road, we’re blowing teams away this season.
We always beat Stoke but that doesn’t mean today is an easy game. We’ve really had to scrape some results against them in the past, particularly at their place, so we shouldn’t get too carried away by our current form. Stoke will be looking to put the boot in and interrupt our football, having the confidence that comes with picking up a win against Liverpool and a draw against Spurs (in the League Cup) at home.
Having said that, Stoke got stuffed 4-0 a couple of weeks ago and have the extra distraction of European football now. It depends which Stoke side shows up and I’m pretty sure Tony Pullis’ pre-match praise, claiming we’re the best team in the world, is to lure us in to a false sense of security.
The centre of midfield is still an issue, as ever, with some fans calling for the increasingly impressive Phil Jones to be giving a go there. With injuries to Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Rafael, this is unlikely though. Rio Ferdinand may be back though and I’m sure we’ll appreciate his experience at the back to deal with the likes of Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones. Anderson and Fletcher may start in midfield again and I’d like to see the Brazilian showing off some pre-Chelsea form. You know, where he could pass and get efforts on target.
Fortunately, we have great strength on the wings in Nani and Young, which takes the pressure away from the centre of the pitch. Danny Welbeck came back against Leeds so may start today, following Ashley Cole’s assault on Chicharito last weekend. Michael Owen got a couple of goals but I still imagine he’s way down in pecking order, although Dimitar Berbatov may be looking to replace an injured Rio in the second half more than getting a game up front!
Come on United!