Stoke sweep aside Manchester United in Britannia Boxing Day battle
Matt Haynes | December 26, 2015
Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United
- Bojan opener puts Potters ahead
- Arnautovic follows up with screamer
- Butland brilliant again in Stoke goal
- Man Utd run now four straight defeats and no win in seven
Stoke settle well
It never rains, but it pours for Manchester United at the minute. On a Boxing Day where torrential weather saw many football fixtures cancelled, Stoke City, 12/5 with Coral to beat Everton next, ensured their opponents’ bleak mid-winter in the Premier League continued.
While the visitors were cautious in their initial approach, in-line with Louis van Gaal’s tactics this term, the hosts in contrast were cavalier, confident that another scalp was in the offing having dispatched Manchester City at the Britannia merely weeks before.
With Bojan Krkic, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri proving to be a tricky front three, United’s defence had their work cut out, while Marouane Fellaini was proving an ineffective outlet for a side seemingly devoid of imagination.
On 20 minutes, the deadlock broke. Glen Johnson dispossessed Memphis Depay at the edge of his own area who rolled it across goal to find the onrushing Bojan who sent fans into raptures.
Not long later the hosts doubled their advantage. A Bojan free-kick cannoned off the wall to Arnautovic, who lashed with venom giving David de Gea no chance.
As the half progressed, Bojan proved a constant threat, exemplified when he released Arnautovic through on goal, only for the Austrian to fire wide, much to his frustration.
No Christmas miracle for United
While captain Wayne Rooney was brought on for the second period, United’s performance improved and they took the initiative to camp in Stoke’s half.
Perhaps their best chance was when Rooney won the ball, maneuvered past markers and pulled back to Fellaini, though Jack Butland’s athleticism left the Belgian with his head in his hands.
Stoke had chances to extend their lead, though as ever on countless occasions this season for United De Gea was on hand to spare further blushes for the visitors. United have now lost four consecutive matches, while Stoke manager Mark Hughes looks like Christmas has come early.
Van Gaal is surely staring down the barrel now, and one more defeat by Chelsea on Monday may prove terminal for the Dutchman’s Old Trafford tenure.
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