United host Hammers, City travel to Stoke

Manchester United host West Ham United, Manchester City travel to Stoke and Jamie Vardy led surprise package of the season Leicester City travel to straggling Swansea City in an exciting day of Barclays Premier League football.

Not pretty but effective? Manchester United's defensive approach this season has not pleased their fans.   -  REUTERS

Manchester United will be looking to continue their good run of form when they host West Ham United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Louis van Gaal's men are just one point off the Premier League summit, unbeaten in the last six matches and have the best defensive record in the division, having conceded just 10 goals in the league so far.

The Red Devils may be secure at the back, but their approach this season has been perceived by many as overly defensive and opposite to the club's attacking roots set by Sir Alex Ferguson. A 2-0 victory over Watford, a goalless draw against PSV Eindhoven and a 1-1 draw against Leicester haven’t gone well with the fans.

Manchester United have a number of absentees due to injuries. Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw are ruled out for a long period while Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones and Ander Herrera all face late fitness tests.

West Ham will miss services of key striker Diafra Sakho, who has been ruled out for two months with a thigh injury. Front-man Enner Valencia and playmaker Dimitri Payet are also sidelined.

Stoke challenge for City

Manchester City has slowly inched its way back to the top of the Premier League table after a few slip-ups. But it is still very tight at the apex with only two points dividing the top four sides. City faces a tough ordeal as they visit Stoke. Both the teams have just advanced to the League Cup semifinals and will be running high on confidence.

Though Stoke is in 12th place, the team has been in decent form five wins, two draws, and three losses in the last ten matches. Stoke also has one of the best defences in the league, with young England goalkeeper Jack Butland in exceptional form.

City are expected to still be without injured skipper Vincent Kompany, while Eliaquim Mangala is suspended and ‘keeper Joe Hart remains on the sidelines. Defender Ryan Shawcross sat out the League Cup win against Wednesday for Stoke due to the red card he picked up last weekend, but he will take his place back in the heart of defence for the clash.

Other Matches: Watford v Norwich City; Southampton v Aston Villa; Arsenal v Sunderland; Swansea City v Leicester City

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