Manchester United vs. Stoke City: Predicting United's Starting 11

Devil in a New DressSenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2011

Manchester United vs. Stoke City: Predicting United's Starting 11

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    Manchester United recorded their fifth win of the 2011-12 season with a strange 3-1 victory over Chelsea last weekend. This weekend, they will face Premier League legend killers Stoke City.

    Tony Pulis' men have begun this season with a bang and, despite a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Sunderland last week, are the strongest they have ever being thanks to new players signed in the summer.

    There are still doubts about Stoke's ability to recover from a midweek game in time for the weekend, and Manchester United will take some confidence from that after resting all of the first team for their midweek win against Leeds United.

    Manchester United's young talents will again be blooded in this match, but I expect a much more familiar side this weekend. Here are my predictions for United's starting 11 against Stoke City.

GK: David De Gea

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    Manchester United's No. 1 goalkeeper David De Gea looks set to start against Stoke City.

    Rested for United's midweek Carling Cup clash against Leeds United, de Gea will be fresh and raring to go.

    The Stoke City clash will afford Manchester United one of their toughest tests to date, and it will be another hurdle for the young goalkeeper to climb.

    A good performance here and any remaining doubts about the young Spaniard will be quelled.

LB: Patrice Evra

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    Acting as deputy captain because of the absence of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra will reprise his role at left back.

    The Frenchman's link-up play with Ashley Young is fast becoming an pivotal part of United's counterattack, and his experience will be a huge advantage against Stoke City. 

RB: Phil Jones

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    Phil Jones seems the best choice, at the moment, to partner Jonny Evans at center back.

    With Chris Smalling and Rafael out with injuries, I believe he will start for Manchester United at right back.

    The England U-21 international has displayed a calm and presence of mind that belies his age, and has showed such good form that he's earned a call up to the England senior side.

    In my opinion, one of United's best signings in years, Phil Jones will add steel and true grit to the United defense.

CB: Jonny Evans

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    Why fix it if it ain't broke?

    Jonny Evans has been very solid at the back for Manchester United so far this season, and I see him starting for United at center back.

    Evans has displayed some good form for United over the past few weeks and, in the absence of Nemanja Vidic, is the most experienced of United's young defenders. 

    This experience will come in handy against a side like Stoke City.

CB: Rio Ferdinand

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    Rio Ferdinand's experience will become increasingly important to Manchester United in the coming weeks and months, and more so in Manchester United's next game against Stoke City.

    Speaking ahead of the match, Sir Alex stressed the importance of having Ferdinand available when travelling to a stadium like the Britannia:

    I’m hoping Rio will be okay for Saturday. When you go to Stoke you need a bit of experience. 

    Rio came into the team when we played at Bolton and gave us that experience, so we hope he'll be fit for Saturday

LM: Ashley Young

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    Rested in midweek for the Carling Cup fixture against Leeds United with the Stoke City game in mind, Young will be fit and ready to fire against Tony Pulis' men.

RM: Luis Nani

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    When you have a guy who can score goals like that, of course he'll play.

MC: Anderson

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    Anderson is Sir Alex Ferguson's first choice central midfielder and will most definitely be starting against Stoke.

    Anderson's contribution to the United team so far has been immense. He has given Sir Alex Ferguson's men a real presence in midfield, scoring goals and providing assists as well.

    The man Sir Alex intends to build his squad around, Anderson is now a key figure for Manchester United and the way they aim to play.

MC: Darren Fletcher

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    Due to Tom Cleverley's injury sustained against Bolton Wanderers two weeks ago, the second central midfielder spot is a toss up between Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher.

    In this battle though, I'd go for Fletcher. The manager trusted the player enough for the full 90 minutes against Chelsea and I can't imagine that that trust has disappeared.

    Perhaps the best holding midfielder United have in their squad, Fletcher is my pick to start against Stoke City.

SC: Wayne Rooney

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    Barring injury, Wayne Rooney will start. FACT.

SC: Javier Hernandez

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    Manchester United's striking partnership of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez is set to continue against Stoke.

    Though reports suggested that Hernandez had returned to training after Ashley Cole's rash tackle in United's league game against Chelsea last week, there were no ill-effects.