The Premier League returns this weekend after the international break and leaders Manchester United are at Stoke City in Saturday’s evening game.
Jose Mourinho will be looking to make it four wins from four to start the 2017-18 campaign after convincing victories over West Ham, Swansea and Leicester.
Stoke City have taken four points from a tough opening schedule – beaten 1-0 at Everton in their opening game, they turned that around with a victory of the same scoreline versus Arsenal before a 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns last time out.
Here is the Manchester United team I think we’ll see starting at Stoke:
David de Gea
The Manchester United goalkeeper is yet to concede a single goal this season and has only had five efforts to save. Whether Stoke will cause much more threat than our first three opponents remains to be seen as Jese and Xherdan Shaqiri are their only real attacking stars.
With Antonio Valencia playing in South America earlier this week the Ecuadorian could be rested for Tuesday’s Champions League tie to give Matteo Darmian a Premier League start at right-back. Whoever starts here should be tested versus Jese.
The centre-back pairing has been a rock at the back so far this season and I think Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are certain to keep their places for the trip to the Britannia Stadium.
With the central pair suspended midweek I can’t see why Bailly and Jones won’t start on Saturday. Jose has already hinted that Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will face FC Basel and with this being the more difficult of those two matches I don’t see him testing the new partnership this weekend. Bailly is excellent in the air but could be tested by the height of Peter Crouch.
An excellent performance in both defence and attack for the Netherlands in their 3-1 victory over Bulgaria, Daley Blind should continue where he left off in our left-back role. Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo both remain absent. Needs to be careful of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s dives.
One of the Premier League signings of the summer so far, Nemanja Matic has offered excellent protection of our defence and started attacks from the middle of the park too. Despite Ander Herrera keen to get a start this season I think the Spaniard may have to wait until midweek.
Two goals in his opening three matches and looking a real menace in attack, don’t be surprised if Paul Pogba gets on the scoresheet again this weekend.
The right wing is one position where the boss may rotate this weekend with Jesse Lingard pushing for contention. I sense Juan Mata will only start one of the two games this week and I’d prefer for him to do so on Saturday if I had a choice.
Five assists in his first three Premier League games this season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a cert to face Stoke. The number 10 has ripped his first three opponents open so far and with both Ryan Shawcross and Kurt Zouma doubtful for this match he could very well have good success tomorrow too.
Both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have made an excellent start to the new season down the left wing and it’s the former whom I think Jose will go with this weekend after the England international had more game time over the international break. Then you’d think Rashford will get the nod on Tuesday.
The Belgian striker is coming off a good weekend with his country who are the first European nation to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Romelu Lukaku is going to start nearly all of our Premier League games when available this season and this one is no exception. Should Stoke be without a couple of their defenders as the reports suggest then don’t be surprised if he adds another goal to his tally on Saturday.
Here is the Manchester United team on paper: