Sunday, 2 October 2016

Manchester United vs Stoke City

After Thursday evening's less than convincing win against Zorya at Old Trafford, Manchester United will be looking to put in a good shift in against Stoke City in the Premier League. With a tough set of fixtures ahead, it is vitally important to enter the international break with another 3 points. A poor start to the season for Stoke sees them at the bottom of the Premier League after being one of the lowest spenders in the Summer transfer window. Every Manchester United fan's ambition for this season is to win the Premier League and currently, only 6 points off the top and only 6 games gone, there is still a chance for us.

Manchester United starting XI: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Blind, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Rashford, Ibrahimović

In the second minute came a massive chance for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pogba slipped in a great ball to him but after choosing the wrong corner, Grant makes a good double save to deny the Swede a great chance.

Our next big chance came to the £89 million man, Paul Pogba. In the 16th minute, some beautiful build up play between Mata, Ibrahimovic and Lingard created a chance for the French International who dragged his shot just wide of the far post.

Juan Mata who was comfortable dictating the attacking play, attempted to chip Grant, who just got a fingertip to the ball to tip it over. Immediately after, from the corner, Paul Pogba was unmarked and headed just wide.

In the 27th minute, some beautiful skill from Ibrahimovic on the wing led to Jesse Lingard getting a shot on goal from point blank range, but was denied by in-form goalkeeper, Grant.

The first half was brilliant for Manchester United. Looking dynamic and direct, we were unlucky not to go into the break 3-0 up. One of the stand out players of the half was Jesse Lingard. Always running in behind the defence and drifting everywhere across the front line, Lingard was unlucky to see his effort on goal denied. Despite our terrific attacking play, we still look slightly shaky in defence and vulnerable to Stoke counter attacks, so lets hope we address that in the second half and are less careless in possession.

HALF TIME: MANCHESTER UNITED 0-0 STOKE CITY

Danger signs were showing two minutes into the second half when David De Gea made a top save to palm over Martins Indi's header but the flag was up for offside.

A controversial moment came in the 54th minute where Ander Herrera was yellow carded when his studs were high and went into Allen's thigh. Although there was no intent, some people are arguing that it should have been a red.

After several long shots, it was clear that we weren't getting anywhere. In the 67th minute, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney came on for Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.

Two minutes later, we finally broke the deadlock! The ball broke kindly for Anthony Martial who could softly curl in an unstoppable finish. Another unintended assist for Wayne Rooney...

Looking like we were about to win the game, in the 82nd minute, a mistake from David De Gea led to Joe Allen netting in from point blank range to equalise as the ball came off the bar.

Chances kept coming for Manchester United but things weren't going our way... Grant got down to parry a shot from Ibrahimovic in the 86th minute and a few minutes later, Paul Pogba rattled the woodwork with a powerful header. He could've had a hat trick today.

FULL TIME: MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1 STOKE CITY

"The best performance of the season" - Jose Mourinho

Overall, it wasn't a bad performance from Manchester United. We created several chances and played some good football. However, when it came down to it, the finishing wasn't up to scratch. Not taking anything away from the brilliant saves by Grant, but we should have scored at least 5 goals with the chances we had.

This weekend we could've reduced the gap on City at the top of the table to three points, but we didn't. We were unlucky today but it is no excuse, we should have won. In a week where we needed to go into the international break with a win, this draw is disappointing. With a tough set of fixtures ahead of us, it will be hard to now close the gap on Manchester City. Our next three games are Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea and Manchester City, all of which are must-win games.

Lets pray for an injury-free international break and come back stronger than ever and destroy Liverpool!