Smarting from defeat to their city rivals, Manchester United will be out to give someone a good hiding and, unfortunately for Stoke, they find themselves in the Red Devils’ eye-line.
At 4/7, United are so deep in banker territory they might struggle to find their way back home again but, if punters are interested in making a bit of a windfall, they should seek directions to the handicap markets.
A punt on Sir Alex Ferguson’s side with a two-goal handicap applied to their final score pays out at 19/5 and, given the circumstances, none of the spectators at the Britannia will be expecting to witness anything other than United running riot.
The miserable Potters have been caught in a relegation vortex after collecting just five points since a 3-3 draw with Southampton on December 29; they’ve played 12 games in that time.
Usually envied by all on account of their rock-solid backline, Tony Pulis’ men have mustered just one clean sheet on their horrible run and their new-found penchant for shipping goals will play right into United’s greedy hands.
In flagrant opposition to the notion that Stoke ‘do well against the big clubs’, United have never allowed the Potters’ maximum points against them and, in the eight games in which the pair have squared off, they’ve only twice failed to notch fewer than two goals.
The fact that Stoke have managed to find the back of an opponents’ net just twice in their previous six outings, only once from open play, puts pay to any aspirations they might have beating David De Gea in this one, rendering the mooted handicap punt very much on.
Finally, if the hosts didn’t have enough cause for pessimism, Mexican poacher Javier Hernandez has notched four in five against Stoke, while Robin van Persie – desperate to end his 10-game goal-drought – has feasted on seven goals in his previous five outings against his next adversaries.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date