The festive season is here as people from all around the world are rejoicing their holidays. But for the Premier League clubs, this is one of the toughest times of the year. Fixtures come thick and fast and seasons can be won and lost in this period. The first game on the Boxing Day will see Manchester United take on Stoke City in a fixture that has a huge bearing on the future of Louis van Gaal the United manager.

The Red Devils have drawn 3 and lost 2 of their last 5 games and will be desperate to get all three points but will not relish this fixture which has traditionally been a testing one. Here is the preview of the game along with the Team news, Expected Line-ups, Predictions and Betting Odds.

The Stoke City vs Manchester United game will be played on Saturday the 26th of December at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke City. The kick off is scheduled at 12:45 pm BST (6:15 pm IST).

Team News:

Mark Hughes has no fresh injury concerns going into the game while Jonathan Walters and Charlie Adam might be bought back to the starting line-up after they started the defeat against Palace on the bench. Geoff Cameron, Marc Muniesa, Peter Crouch and Shay Given are all absent for the game and the home side are likely to start with Shaqiri, Arnautovic and Bojan up front on Saturday.

Manchester United will hope a fit again Wayne Rooney who scored in the last two Boxing Day fixtures can help them get a result out of this game. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jesse Lingard, Matteo Darmian, Rojo and Luke Shaw are all injured leaving Louis van Gaal a bit weak at the back. Morgan Schneiderlin is expected to return into the starting line-up for this fixture.




Expected Line-ups:

Stoke City:

Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Bojan, Shaqiri; Diouf

Manchester United:

 De Gea; Young, Jones, Smalling, Blind; Schneiderlin, Carrick; Depay, Mata, Martial; Rooney  

Key Battles:

Martial vs Shawcross:

The Stoke city defender has been in fine form this season and has helped keep the Stoke goal away from harm. He will be up against a young Anthony Martial who has sizzled so far this season for United. Martial is quick and strong and has the ability to cut defenses apart. Shawcross will have to stay tight and deny him any space if they are to keep him quite.

Arnautovic vs Smalling:

Chris Smalling has been one of the brightest spots for United this season. He has been solid at the back but was exposed in the last few matches. Stoke city forward Arnautovic will try to take full advantage of any complacency at the back and it will be up to Smalling to keep the tall striker away from their goal.

Betting Odds:

Stoke City: 23/10

Draw: 11/5

Manchester United: 5/4


United have not been able to create enough chances in the final third and have paid the price in the last few matches. This game will be very important for the manager from Manchester as rumors are going on that this can easily be his last game in charge. Stoke City are a very well organized unit and will try and frustrate the visitors and will take even a draw from this game.

Our Prediction:

Stoke City 1-0 Manchester United


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