Lee Calver talks up the prospect of Stoke causing an upset, while Nathan Staples takes United’s side as Chris Bryant asks the questions. You can read a full betting preview of the match here.
CB: United have been flawless so far, but could they drop their first points at the Britannia?
LC: It is difficult to stake a claim for backing Stoke to take all three points at odds of 11/2, but there may be value in predicting a draw. If you can look past a United victory, the odds of 3/1 for the game to end all square does offer punters some value.
NS: This match looks almost like a foregone conclusion to me. 100% record against Stoke in the Premier League, 100% record so far this season, and at odds of 1/2 for both those stats to carry on, I can only see this going one way.
CB: But Stoke will surely make it difficult for United, as they do for most visiting teams?
LC: I think so. Putting the shock 4-0 drubbing they suffered at the hands of Sunderland last Sunday to one side, Tony Pulis’s side have started this campaign in a positive manner, picking up eight points from their opening five fixtures and currently lie fifth in the table. With the attacking players yet to find their shooting boots, Stoke’s solid defence has been the key. They’ve already kept seven clean sheets in all competitions this season and are yet to concede a goal at the Britannia, so it will not be a walk in the park for the Red Devils. Chelsea and Liverpool have both travelled to the noisy Britannia and failed to find the net in 90 minutes, so Stoke will fancy their chances of keeping a clean sheet until at least half-time. A goalless first half can be backed at odds of 11/5. Previous encounters between these two sides also suggest a half-time score line of 0-0 is well worth a second look. The fixtures at the Britannia during 2008/09 and 2009/10 campaigns saw the sides go in at the break goalless.
NS: I agree that the Britannia is always a difficult place to find goals. However, United are in great goalscoring form and have managed to squeeze two goals past Stoke in three of their last four meetings, and have scored seven altogether on their travels. At 23/10, the odds are great for United to put exactly two past the Stoke defence.
CB: Who do you think are the most likely goalscorer candidates then?
NS: Like last week, many would bank on Rooney to score the first goal this weekend, but he has never actually scored against Stoke. He is at 17/20 to break that duck at any time and 7/2 to score first, but Hernandez looks the better option. He’s scored three in two against Stoke and is at great odds of 4/1 to score first.
LC: There may be plenty of Fergie’s men that will be heavily backed in the goalscorer markets, but the Potters do have a few goal threats of their own. With Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones unlikely to be fit, Peter Crouch should make his Premier League debut for his seventh side. He will be desperate to get off the mark far quicker than he did for former club Liverpool, and what better way to do it than against the reigning Premier League champions. Crouchy is rated at 8/1 to score either the first or last goal of the game, and is a tasty 2/1 to notch at anytime. For punters looking for a bit of value elsewhere, goal scoring centre half Robert Huth is available at long odds of 20/1 to net first and 11/2 to score at any time during the 90 minutes. The big man will be go forward for every corner and long throw launched into the box, so there are always chances that the German defender will pop up with a headed goal.
CB: Good stuff. Any other markets catch your eye?
NS: Stoke have had a decent start to the season, but they are lacking goals. Only three have been scored by the Potters this season, and only once have they scored in front of their home faithful. I’ll be backing United to win to nil at odds of 3/2.
LC: Lack of goals has been a feature of the majority of the Potters’ games so far. Four of the five Premier League ties have seen Stoke find the back of the net on the solitary occasion and for a repeat of this occurrence punters can get odds of 29/20. They will also be desperate to get that hammering by Sunderland out of their system. I’m also going to have a look at the 13/5 on Stoke to score the first goal of the second half. Last season’s corresponding fixture saw Stoke 1-0 down at the break, but a stunning strike by Tuncay brought the Potters level, and was indeed the first goal of the second half on that day.
CB: Well one thing’s for sure, it certainly won’t be a drab affair. Thanks for your time, chaps.
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