Britannia Stadium – New Year’s Day, Thursday 1st January at 12.45 live on Sky Sports 1
The first game of 2015 sees Louis Van Gaal getting his ‘Stoke on a cold day’ initiation, as he takes his resurgent Manchester United team to face United legend Mark Hughes’s Stoke City.
For the first time this season Stoke managed to register back to back victories in the Premier League and both came with clean sheets, which will no doubt please Mark Hughes who has seen their usually water tight defence, concede too many sloppy goals so far this season.
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While Stoke were winning back to back games, Manchester United were left frustrated by Spurs at White Hart Lane after giving one of their best performances in midfield and defence, it was the free scoring attack which faltered in North London. Although, man of the match Hugo Lloris duly took the credit for keeping the match goalless.
United do remain undefeated, a run which now covers their last nine games since losing the Derby against Manchester City back at the start of November. So, both teams should be confident of taking something from this New Year’s Day encounter at the Britannia.
The historical stats for this match up are very much opposed to the recent stats, which makes it difficult to take a view on this game with 100% confidence. United have a fantastic record against the Potters, with 11 wins from 13 meetings between the two but they only have two away wins so far this season.
Stoke haven’t been as solid at home as in previous years but the only side above them in the table to win at the Britannia so far, was Chelsea a couple of weeks ago. Also, their only Premier League victory over United came at home last season.
Based on this seasons form, it seems a tough ask for Man Utd to take all three points away at an on form Stoke side. Conversely, it would still be a shock to see Mark Hughes’ side beat his former employers and the draw does seem like a touch of value.
Our recommendation is to back Stoke +0.5 at 1.93 because they are capable of claiming their first point of 2015.