It's all Juan Mata, all the time at Manchester United these days.
The team's marquee January signee made his debut for the club midweek against Cardiff City, picking up an assist and a solid 7.4 match rating from WhoScored in United's 2-0 win. He's United's great hope to get back in the running for a Champions League spot, even if it remains to be seen how he and Wayne Rooney will be utilized in tandem when started together.
Of course, Mata or not, going to the Britannia Stadium and picking up points is no easy task. Stoke has lost just two games at home this season, so they won't roll over for United.
When: Saturday, February 1 at 10 a.m. ET
Saturday, February 1 at 3 p.m. GMT
Where: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Watch: NBC Sports Network; NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds: Manchester United (45.6 percent), Stoke City (27.6 percent) and draw (26.8 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
Manchester United are still nursing their fair share of injuries, and won't be 100 percent against Stoke. According to David Moyes, Marouane Fellaini won't be able to return, while the club will still be handling Rooney and Robin van Persie with care. His comments, via ESPN:
We have to be careful with them both. Wayne has had about 30 minutes, Robin about 60. We are mindful they're both coming back from injuries and we have to make sure they're ready.
We are a little bit more concerned about Robin because he's been out longer. We have to keep managing them and do things right. But I've got them back and it's great to have them.
While Stoke are tough at home, United have been quite good on the road, taking 20 of a possible 33 points away from Old Trafford. That's not only identical to their home points, but also exceeds the 17 points Stoke has managed at home.
And Stoke are reeling, with five losses and one draw in their last six Premier League matches, which has dropped them back into the relegation discussion. While Stoke is never known for being much of an offensive threat, the club has also allowed 37 goals on the season, third worst in the league.
To put that in perspective, they gave up a total of 45 goals in all of last season. If they keep their current pace, they'll smash that mark with ease, a feat you imagine they would prefer to avoid.
You just get the feeling that the addition of Mata has breathed some life into this United side. And boy, did they need it.
Stoke, meanwhile, come into this game ice cold and seemingly devoid of any players capable of lifting the team from the doldrums, especially against United. This game won't get ugly since Stoke are strong at home, but it's hard to see them winning.
Manchester United win, 2-0.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!