Robin van Persie finally ended his goal drought in a straightforward 2-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium that edged Manchester United closer to a 20th league title. Sir Alex Ferguson now needs just seven points from six remaining games and another three can come at West Ham United on Wednesday night.
There were just two bookings in United’s clash with Stoke and that is a trend seen when they have faced West Ham in recent seasons. Those playing the bookings market may have seen that there hasn’t been a dismissal in United’s previous ten meetings with the Hammers.
The highest bookings total is 30 points and there have been three occasions where only one card has been shown in that ten game run. Since the start of the 2008/09 campaign the average bookings total in West Ham v Man United games stands at 21 points.
Manchester United have won eight and lost none of nine previous Premier League games against Stoke and have not lost to them in the league since December 1984.
With the form Stoke are in now and with United needing to pick themselves up after a derby defeat to Manchester City on Monday, this could be painful for the Potters.
Stoke have only scored twice in their last six league games combined, and one of those came from the penalty spot. They have lost seven of their last ten – only tasting victory against basement boys Reading – and have found themselves dragged into the relegation battle.
United have scoring problems of their own with Robin van Persie now failing to net in 685 minutes of football for the Red Devils. He does, however, boast seven goals from just six games against Stoke and found the net in the reverse fixture back in October. That was a 4-2 win for United.
Mexican forward Javier Hernandez has scored four goals in just four Premier League starts against the Potters.
United will set the record for longest unbeaten run on the road this season if they avoid defeat at the Britannia on Sunday. They have won six and drawn two of their last eight away from Old Trafford.
Only Norwich, Sunderland and Aston Villa have managed fewer goals at home than Stoke’s 19. That’s an average of just 1.18 per game. United are averaging 2.06 goals on the road this term.
There are likely to be a few fresh faces in the Manchester United squad heading out to Istanbul, but Sir Alex Ferguson will still be bullish about his side’s chances in the Turkish capital. Given United’s performance at Carrow Road on Saturday it might just be a good thing, especially as the Red Devils have already qualified top of Group G.
Galatasary have it all to play for after securing four points from their first four matches. That total leaves them level with FC Cluj with two to play, but Galatasaray have found the going tough this season. The same cannot be said of United who have cruised to a 100% start to qualify for the knock-out stages with two games to spare.
Wednesday’s hosts have failed to win any of their past five home European matches. That includes a defeat and a draw from their two home Champions League fixtures this season. United have also won their past two matches in Turkey.
Manchester United will be pleased to have another game so soon after their humiliating derby defeat on Sunday, even though it’s against Aldershot. Whatever side Sir Alex Ferguson chooses to send out, he’ll be demanding a significant improvement on the last performance. United’s defensive frailties once again were on show against Man City and that’s something that the Shots cam relate to all too well.
Those keen for a spread on the total goals market will be interested to learn that the Shots have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven attempts and things won’t be any easier against a resurgent United side. Before the Shots’ win against Dagenham on the weekend, Dean Holdworth’s team had lost five on the spin – conceding an average of two per game on that run.
Given it’s the Carling Cup it will mean Michael Owen will likely be given another outing. His player performance spread will be a hot topic, especially after his well taken brace against Leeds in the last round. This will be the second time these two clubs have met and that meeting was won by the Red Devils 3-1.
All the talk this weekend is about Sunday’s Manchester Derby as the top two in the league go into battle. Roberto Mancini’s side are two points clear of their city rivals, although both sides can boast of unbeaten starts to the season. With the game being at the Theatre of Dreams, United will certainly fancy their chances against City – especially on the run they are on there.
Anyone looking at either the match supremacy or win index markets will be astounded to hear that United have won their past 19 home league games and by at least two goals in the last five. United have also won their last six home contests against top-six opponents.
Further support for those looking to get with United on the spreads is that City have lost five of nine away games at top-six sides under Mancini.