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Man Utd looking to start the year on a high with Stoke win

It’s New Year. A chance for Manchester United to put a turbulent last 12 months behind them, which saw them fail to qualify for the Champions League. They travel south west for New Years Day, where Stoke City await, marshaled by one of their former lieutenants, Mark Hughes.

Louis van Gaal’s side are odds-on at 10/11 with Coral to take three points away from the Britannia, where they lost 2-1 last February. United are unbeaten in nine matches and are currently third in the Premier League, seven points behind fierce rivals Manchester City, with the promise of funds to spend in January.

Although they could only manage a frustrating stalemate at White Hart Lane, last time out, United will be confident that they have enough in their armoury to get past the Potters. Robin van Persie scored in Staffordshire in their previous visit and is 4/1 to break the deadlock, while earlier this season, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini were on target in a 2-1 win. They are 7/2 and 11/2 respectively to score anytime.

Stoke, meanwhile, have had a respectable Christmas, taking six points from six. They followed up a 1-0 away win at Everton on Boxing Day, with a 2-0 home victory over West Bromwich Albion two days later. Former United player, Mame Biram Diouf, who was the hero at the Etihad against Man City earlier in the season, bagged a brace against the Baggies and is 8/1 to open the scoring.

Hughes will look to utilise Peter Crouch against a lightweight defence, hoping his physical nature can cause them problems. The striker is 11/4 to score anytime, and has four to his name in the league this season, while summer signing Bojan Krkic has also shown promise lately, scoring against Everton and Arsenal. The ex-Barcelona attacker is 7/2 to net anytime.

Crucial to an away victory though, is likely to be skipper Wayne Rooney, who has been given a new role by Van Gaal in midfield, and has been key to the way the team has been playing recently. Rooney’s double helped defeat Newcastle on Boxing Day, and he is 5/1 to achieve or better that.