Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United have made the perfect start to the Premier League season, but one of their most fondly remembered former strikers is plotting their downfall.
Jose Mourinho’s side have begun the campaign with three wins from three matches, without conceding a goal, and start the weekend top of the table as they prepare to visit Stoke City on Saturday.
But they have not won at the bet365 Stadium since United old boy Mark Hughes became Stoke’s manager in 2013 and midfielder Ander Herrera knows his side are in for a difficult afternoon.
“The Premier League is very long and every team can beat you,” Herrera said.
“Now we have to face Stoke and we’ve had four seasons without winning there. It’s been a good way to start the season, but we cannot relax.
“We are ready to face them and, hopefully, the weather is not so bad there because, when it is bad, it is very difficult to play.
“We are ready. No excuses — let’s try to win there. We are Manchester United, so we are not scared.”
United appear to be in the mood to secure a first away victory over Stoke since April 2013.
Romelu Lukaku experienced the first setback of his United career when he saw a penalty saved during their last league match, a 2-0 victory over Leicester City.
But he shrugged off the disappointment during the international break, scoring four times in two matches for Belgium as they secured qualification for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Marcus Rashford, a scoring substitute against Leicester, has made a strong claim to return to the starting line-up after his fine winner against Slovakia moved England closer to a World Cup place of their own.
Rashford’s form puts extra pressure on Anthony Martial, who was overlooked by France coach Didier Deschamps for the fourth international get-together in succession.
– Stoke seek second big scalp –
The international break also gave left-back Luke Shaw and winger Ashley Young the chance to build up fitness as they get closer to returning from injuries suffered late last season.
Shaw has recovered from an ankle injury, Young a hamstring problem, and both may be included in the squad to face Stoke.
Stoke are targeting a second prized scalp of the season at home after they defeated Arsenal 1-0 last month.
Close-season signing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is working hard to be fit to face United after returning from international duty with Cameroon nursing a slight hamstring injury.
He started the last two games, the victory over Arsenal and a draw at West Bromwich Albion, and admits his experience of English football has been mixed so far.
“I’ve had two different experiences already, two completely different games,” said the former Schalke forward.
“Maybe the West Brom team weren’t individually as strong as Arsenal, but physically they were very strong and it was maybe even a more intense game with a lot of strong duels.
“Now it’s a big game against Manchester United and another test.”
He added: “There is a lot more to come. That’s my goal. I think I can do much better. It’s still the beginning and I will try to do my best.
“England is cool. The area where we live is a nice area and the people are very friendly. And most importantly the atmosphere in the team is very good.
“Our start has not been bad. After the first loss at Everton we’ve got four points, so that’s something to build on.”
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