Manchester United are back up to third place after a series of good results, if not always performances, since the start of November, but they’re yet to really get their act together on the road and face a tricky Stoke outfit in the Potteries next.
Be that as it may, the first of our three best bets reckons they’re on to a good thing.
The Red Devils have still only won twice on the road under Louis van Gaal, and none of their previous couple of away clashes, but came mighty close in draws at Aston Villa and Tottenham of late, with both hosts thankful to hang onto a point in the end.
United downed Stoke 2-1 at Old Trafford bang in the middle of their six-match winning run at the start of this month and are now unbeaten in ten, whereas Mark Hughes’ men had only won one in six prior to taking six points over the Xmas period against struggling Everton and West Brom.
Van Gaal will miss injured Marouane Fellaini, who bagged the opener in the December fixture, against Stoke’s robot football monsters, but expect the ‘Iron Tulip’ to recall 6ft4in Chris Smalling to counter the aerial threat.
The 13-time champions need a win to keep a firm grip on third, so their boss will pull out all the stops.
The December fixture at home was the first time in nine Premier League clashes with Stoke that Van Persie didn’t score, stretching back to November 2008 with Arsenal, meaning the Dutchman is kind of due a goal against the Potters.
Furthermore, the 31-year-old’s last away strike in the division was an opener, at Southampton, so he rates a cracking bet to break the deadlock at the Britannia.
Mata has posted an impressive tally of 11 top-flight goals for United since moving north from Chelsea last January, and the Spaniard came as close as any of his teammates to breaking the deadlock in the 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane.
He grabbed what proved to be the winner against Stoke a month ago, and it would be no surprise if Mata notched for the sixth time in the PL this season here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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