Manchester United vs Stoke City: United's eye on the title?
Manchester United resume their faint Premier League title challenge as they host Stoke City at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho's Red Devils beat Derby 2-0 to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup - a competition United must compete forgiven their shock EFL Cup exit and Man City's dominance in the league. But United were boosted by the weekend's results as Chelsea drew at home against Leicester, while Manchester City's 4-3 defeat at Liverpool means the Red Devils can cut the lead at the top to 12 points with a win.
Stoke, meanwhile, are in real danger of relegation this season as they sit 18th on the table, but have sacked former United striker Mark Hughes in an attempt to arrest an alarming decline.
Antonio Valencia could return for Manchester United's home clash with Stoke on Monday night. The converted right-back has been out for almost a month with a hamstring injury but trained with Jose Mourinho's team in Dubai this week along with Michael Carrick, who has not played since September having undergone a procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm.
Ashley Young still has one match left to serve on his suspension while Eric Bailly (ankle) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee) are missing once again.
Stoke could have Erik Pieters and Bruno Martins Indi available for the trip to Old Trafford. The Dutch pair has stepped up their recoveries from hamstring and groin injuries respectively, returning to training this week. It was hoped skipper and fellow defender Ryan Shawcross, recently sidelined by a calf problem, would also be involved in training ahead of the game.
There may be a debut for right-back Moritz Bauer after his switch from Rubin Kazan to the Potters, who have had first-team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki in temporary charge since the sacking of boss Mark Hughes last weekend.
Man United starting XI: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Mata, Lukaku
Stoke starting XI: Butland, Edwards, Zouma, Wimmer, Pieters, Allen, Cameron, Adam, Shaqiri, Crouch, Choupo-Moting
Head to Head
Manchester United has won 43 of the clashed with Stoke City while Stoke have only won 28 of their meetings.
Manchester City’s loss to Liverpool will be a big motivator for the Red Devils as they will look to minimize the gap between them and the leaders. A Manchester United win is imminent.