Manchester United can narrow the lead down to 12 points if they win their home fixture against Stoke City. Manchester City’s doctrine was finally breached by a determined Liverpool unit and City dropped their first three in what might have been the match of the season. United have got their big names back for this fixture and they’ll be eyeing to make a mark. A mark that could disturb the league leaders. United, however, need to convert stalemates into victories. They’ve dropped 6 points in the last 5 games. Now, those numbers need to compound to multiples of 3 if they are willing to compete for the title. Also, Manchester United have won 25 of a possible 27 points in Premier League home games against Stoke, with the only points dropped coming in this exact fixture last season.
Stoke City are fighting the relegation zone and are 18th on the table with only 20 points. On road, their record has been risible. 1 win out of eleven. Mark Hughes was sent packing after an abysmal run and has made way for Paul Lambert. Ironically, newly hired managers tend to make an affirmative start. It has happened with Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace and also with Sam Allardyce at Everton. Can the same happen with a struggling Stoke City?
Nine previous managers (including interim managers) have taken charge of their first ever Premier League game against Manchester United at Old Trafford – the only one not to lose was Claudio Ranieri with Chelsea in September 2000 (3-3).
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