Is this a cursed season for Manchester United? From the word ‘go’, injuries and illness have torn through the side, and while injuries can’t be looked upon as an excuse for some of the poor and surprising results that have occurred this season or the exits from the Carling Cup, FA Cup, and most disappointingly, the Champions League, there’s no doubt that United’s chances for success in all of those competitions and in the Premier League would be at least somewhat enhanced by a fitter squad.
Through it all, however, one area had managed to duck scrapes and sickness…until now. So, instead of contending with David de Gea or Anders Lindegaard tonight at Old Trafford, it appears that Stoke City will be testing one Tomasz Kuszczak, who, in all likelihood, never thought he’d be in this position again. Then again, neither did we, but at this point in the season, nothing should come as a surprise.
1. In the last three seasons, Stoke had two, four, and three away wins, respectively. This season, their play away from home has been quite improved, as they’re 4-2-5 away from home thus far this season.
2. In part to increased success on the road, Stoke are sitting eighth in the Premier League table, with 30 points from 22 matches, five points behind Liverpool and six behind Newcastle and Arsenal.
3. Consistent goal production has been an issue for Stoke this season, as they’ve notched only 23 league goals. Only Everton, QPR, West Brom (all 22), and Wigan (19) have scored fewer goals this season.
Only eight of those goals have come away from home, with only Swansea City (8) and Fulham (7) matching their output or scoring less in away fixtures.
4. Defensively, Stoke have surrendered 33 goals this season, which sees them tied with Arsenal for 13th in the league in goals allowed. The Potters have conceded 20 goals away from home, which ties them with Wolves for 13th in the league in that category.
1. Please no injuries tonight, please no injuries tonight, please no injuries tonight, please no injuries tonight, please no injuries tonight…times 1,000,000.
At this rate, the backups to the backups are going to get injured trying to tie a shoe, get a cup of tea, or walk to their cars. And no one needs to consider trying a new restaurant, because a nasty case of food poisoning is only one bite away.
2. Many might think that it doesn’t really matter if you have a decent third keeper, because the #1 should be solid, and the #2 should be a more than capable backup in times of need.
Alas, few take account situations like these. Tomasz Kuszczak is still at United? Why yes, yes he is.
If you’re sending out your third or fourth keeper, there are many more favorable opponents than Stoke, who have the height and physicality to make a stand-in’s night real fun.
3. That’s not to say it’s time for a full-scale panic attack, because the defense should be a strong one. Should is the keyword here.
4. Fortunately, whatever happens, we aren’t short on scoring options. The last four home league games have produced 14 goals, and there’ve been 33 in 11 overall home league games to date. That’s some real light among some dark points.
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