Much talk prior to the announcement of the starting eleven concerned whether or not Louis van Gaal would tinker with the team that beat Hull City so easily on Saturday, or not. Of course Di Maria wasn't available after picking up a hamstring injury during that match, Herrera continued in his place where he had given a man of the match performance against the Tigers. The main news was that Wayne Rooney was not to take part, and in his place the young striker James Wilson, who celebrated his birthday this week, was given a chance alongside Robin van Persie. Once again Falcao was to start on the bench. Michael Carrick was named as captain for the match in the absence of Rooney.
As the first half progressed it became clear that Stoke City would be harder to break down than Hull City had been. The first real chance fell to Herrera who blazed over when set up by van Persie after a mistake in the Stoke defence. But Herrera would redeem himself after 21 minutes when he sent a looping cross over from the left, which was met by Fellaini, who rose majestically to power a header in to make it 1-0.
The second half had United pressing for the second goal, but they had to wait until the 59th minute when they were awarded a free kick. Mata delivered from the right and it sailed into the far corner of the net. Both Mata and Rojo wheeled away in celebration, with Rojo claiming he got the final touch, but on closer inspection Rojo didn't manage to get his head to it.
After the goal the match became a little lackluster with few chances falling to either side, and it looked as though United would see the match out comfortably. Then in stoppage time all hell broke loose in the United penalty area with David De Gea making two point blank saves and a goal line clearance from Ashley Young.
This was a performance from United that should send a warning to the rest of the league, and it's that van Gaal's men are finally playing as a unit, and looking like a team that is delivering on his philosophies. It wasn't a great spectacle but United worked hard and ground out the result. My choice of man of the match is Juan Mata, The Spaniard worked tirelessly for the team, he always looked to try and get the attack moving and of course scored the winning goal. This was the club's fourth straight win, and confirms their place within the top four of the league.
On now to next Monday, and the start of a busy schedule over the coming weeks, with United set to visit Southampton, who are enjoying a fine start to the season under new manager, Dutchman Ronald Koeman . They will be looking to bounce back in front of their own fans after a 3-0 home defeat by Manchester City, and I fully expect a difficult match, but I believe United will continue their momentum and come away with all three points in readiness for the next match, the big one, Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Thanks for taking the time to read.