After what was considered a crisis within Old Trafford it seems as if normal order is restored what with Manchester United recording back to back wins in all competitions in the past week. A 4-1 thumping of Leicester last Saturday was then added to do with a win in the Europa League on Thursday.
They may have laboured to victory over Zorya Luhansk in midweek with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being required to salvage the win but it seems quite apparent that the Europa League isn’t the most pressing of priorities for Jose Mourinho this season with Premier League success being the main focus.
And the Red Devils returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion last week when they were already 4-0 up against champions Leicester by half time, the big headline though from that game was the fact that Wayne Rooney was dropped to the subs bench.
And it must come as no coincidence that United were at their best when Rooney wasn’t playing and not only that we saw the first real performance from Paul Pogba since his world record move from Juventus earlier in the Summer. The question now is whether or not Rooney has to once again make do with being left out of the starting eleven for this afternoon’s visit of Stoke.
With United already sitting 6 points behind their cross town rivals Manchester City they will certainly need to make sure that their performance against Leicester wasn’t a one off and that is now the minimum standard in terms of performance each week.
What Stoke would give for a win, they thought they had their first of the season last weekend only for Tony Pulis’ West Brom to snatch a point in the final minute of the game. That result would have no doubt hard Mark Hughes cursing his luck as the pressure begins to mount on the former United striker.
He’ll be hoping his return to Old Trafford is a succesful one as Stoke still look for that all important first win of this campaign. After shipping goals left, right and centre in their first five weeks they were more solid against West Brom but a lapse in concentration right when it mattered most cost them two points and meant Hughes once again had to do a lot of soul searching after the final whistle.
Joe Allen opened his account for Stoke last week and you could see the relief in not only his face but his teammates as with only 15 minutes to go they felt that they had done enough to win the game but once again Bruno Martins Indi has to come in for some criticism after his miscommunication with keeper Lee Grant gave West Brom a corner and one last opportunity to salvage a point.
Stoke have lost their steel at the back but the decision to start Grant instead of Shay Given gave them a bit more of a platform in which to build on in defence and you would imagine that even with that miscommunication late on that he has done enough to once again start this afternoon.
United will naturally go into this game as favourites and they should have more than enough talent at their disposal to edge past Stoke today. I think Mark Hughes is going to have to wait at least another week to get that first league win of the season. A home win for me.