Friday, 14 November 2008

United v Stoke - Preview

Saturday sees us take on Stoke at Old Trafford. Unless you've been living in a bunker for this season, you will know that Stoke have a certain player named Rory Delap, and that the said player can throw the ball quite a long way. You may also have seen that certain French managers of North London clubs whinged excessively about Stoke's "physical" style of play following an embarrassing result and performance.

Let me just say a couple of things about these points before I move onto our team news. Delap's long throw is a brutal, brutal weapon. He can deliver it high and looping, or flat and fizzed, in each case towards a number of big, tall lads whose sole aim is to cause enough havoc that the ball goes in somehow. This is going to be a huge test for EVDS in particular - I'm assuming, despite my entreaties in my previous post, that he will play, particularly because he has been busily telling the media how we have plans on how to cope with the long throw - because his decision making and composure under crosses has been pretty questionable this season. Delap has embarrassed other good keepers in the course of this season, who have had no idea whether to come or not and ended up getting it signally wrong.

The last point on this is that our, in my view unparalleled - ability to recycle the ball from defensive areas will be crucial here. A boot into touch from the 18 yard line does not constitute safety against Stoke, and we must look to play our clever triangles is only to gain twenty yards before conceding a throw.

Finally, the physical nature of Stoke's game should not be a problem for us. To resounding silence and my own chagrin, I compared our inability to finish off games we have dominated to the perennial problem experienced by Arsenal. But nobody has ever, or will ever, accuse us of being shy or not up for a physical match, and if Stoke want to come and play that game with us, then they'd better be ready to get it back as good as they give.

Team news

As I said above, I expect EVDS to play in goal, notwithstanding that this would be a perfect opportunity for Foster to show what he's got in a difficult game. Evra is a slight doubt, which would make way for O'Shea - not necessarily a bad thing, given O'Shea's height and aerial ability in set play situations. Wes Brown is still out with a knee injury, leaving the right back slot between Neville and Rafael - despite everything I've said about him this week, I think Neville is the right guy for the sort of streetfight we might have to deal with, and his heading is superior. We should have enough quality to break Stoke down at the back without Rafael's talents in that regard.

Carrick and Anderson are both definitely fit, although Fletcher may have shrugged off a knee injury in time. Carrick must definitely play, and either of the others have the strength and energy to compete. At home, I always like to see us take the initiative, so I'd prefer to see Nani start on the left ahead of Park, although I'm not sure that will happen. Ronaldo will be back on the right, of course. Rooney is struggling to shake off a virus, so Tevez will likely have the chance to build on his midweek goal by playing alongside Berbatov.

Predicted team: EVDS - O'Shea, Vidic, Rio, Neville - Park, Carrick, Anderson, Ronaldo - Tevez, Berbatov

Predicted score: 3-1 United

What do you expect from the game, and what are your predictions?


PO13 said...

I'm rather worried about EDVS in regards to the throw. However, maybe what we need is to go down 1-0 at home. If Stoke get an early goal, we're going to have to show some finishing skills in front of goal to win the game. Perhaps going down at home will get our mental focus back in the box. If not, it may be a long season.

MoYa said...

Delap's throughs are pretty amazing... Never seen anything like it before.
The trajacectory on the the ball is so dangerous as it comes in so fast and straight almost like an arrow. Add to that you can't be offside from a throw and it becomes pretty tough to deal with!

Pretty sure we'll win the game, but will be an interesting test to see if we can deal with the threat.

MoYa said...


What are your views on Ronaldo's direct freekicks?
I mean when they come off they are absolute rockets, but that is happening far too seldom for my liking.
They always seem to hit the wall and I think it's an area of our game we need to take more advantage of (all set pieces in general).

I think that someone should rather lay him off, that way he would clear the wall. The way he strikes a ball would trouble any keeper and I just think we not using this to our advantage.

Anonymous said...

when will we ever get to see MAN-U-Cho, I think we got ourselves the answer to their Drogbas an Adebayos.........just that we are not using ours

Andrew, Esq. said...

I can't help but chuckle when I read the previous two comments after today's games.

Problem with Ronaldo's freekicks? Two in one game should work for ya.

When will we see Manucho? We just did, and he looks promising.

Andrew, Esq. said...

game, singular. sorry.

sam said...

Damn Carrick is making a fool out of me at the moment. Who knew he could hit a ball like that with his left (or his right for that matter)!!

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