Stoke City-Manchester United Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- Manchester United will be desperate for a win when they welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford on Saturday.
United (3-2-3) have failed to win five of their opening eight games of the season under new manager David Moyes, dropping 13 points to leave themselves well off the pace at the top of the Premier League table. It took United until 30 games into last season before they dropped 13 points, but Moyes has this week received support from an unlikely source - his opposite number for Saturday's game.
"I think David probably expected the reaction he has had because he has stepped into the shoes of a great footballing man," said Stoke manager and former Manchester United player, Mark Hughes. "He is a very experienced man, and I am sure that he will again continue to show how good a manager he is.
"I would think that they will be there or there about come the end of the season. They are a little bit adrift at the moment, but if you ever question Manchester United, more often than not they will hit back with the answers."
The reigning Premier League Champions looked much improved in a 1-0 Champions League win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday evening, and defender Phil Jones is hopeful that the win will spark a recovery.
"It was important to get back to winning ways," said Jones. "We want to build on this and get back to where we need to be in the league. We'll keep working hard. Hopefully this is the start of a good run now."
Saturday's visitors Stoke (2-2-4) are without a win in five matches and have failed to score in their last three. The Potters have managed a Premier League low of just four goals this season, but Hughes believe his team will be fine once they work out the best combination of attacking players.
"We've made opportunities, but we haven't been taking them," said Hughes. "We do feel that we will start to convert them sooner, rather than later.
"We have a lot of different options up top. We need to find that one combination which will be able to carry us through the season. We need to get the right balance and the right combination. I think we are close to finding the right one."
Manchester United have injury doubts over Danny Welbeck (knock), Nemanja Vidic (calf), Tom Cleverley (calf) and Rio Ferdinand (groin), while Stoke City have concerns over the fitness of Geoff Cameron (calf).
Stoke are yet to beat Manchester United in ten attempts since their promotion to the Premier League, losing nine times and drawing once, with an aggregate score of 25-5.
Moyes' team have failed to win three times at home this season, already matching the amount of times they failed to win at Old Trafford in the whole of the last campaign. The last time a United side dropped ten or more points at home in a season was 2005-06, but they have already dropped seven points this season.
United did the double over Stoke last season, winning 4-2 at Old Trafford and 2-0 at the Britannia, with Robin Van Persie scoring in both matches. In fact, the Dutchman has scored eight times in his last six matches against Stoke, with at least one goal in all six of those games.
Updated October 24, 2013