Manchester United will bid to keep their stuttering title defence on track when they take on Stoke City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Red Devils have beaten Sunderland and drawn with Southampton in their last two games to move up the table to 8th, 8 points off top spot and it will be a case of baby steps once more for David Moyes and his side when they face 16th in the table Stoke.
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Those steps continued midweek with a narrow 1-0 win over Real Sociedad to make it three games unbeaten for United and midfielder Michael Carrick wants his side to push on and improve their league position.
“The frustrating thing is we have had moments in certain games when you think ‘this is it, we’re on the up’,” he told the club’s official website.
“You can look at the Southampton game last Saturday and say we really should have won.
“In the past we have been good at getting on top of those things and seeing games out. I am sure we will do that in the games we have coming up.”
Stoke meanwhile have slipped down the table on the back of a five game winless run that has seen defeats to Arsenal, Norwich and Fulham. Mark Hughes’ side drew with West Bromwich Albion 0-0 last time out and they have not scored a premier league goal in 334 minutes.
Despite his side’s poor form Hughes believes that it is the perfect time to face his former employers, saying “They have lost three and maybe they are a little bit vulnerable at the moment.”
Key to any victory will be the Potters defence and Hughes will be hoping that former United star Ryan Shawcross can overcome illness to play.
The tough tackling defender did not train on Thursday and Hughes is set to check on the centre back before deciding if he is fit to feature.
“Ryan Shawcross has been ill all this week,” said Hughes.
“He didn’t train on Thursday and we will need to check him in the morning. I am reasonably confident that he will come through but we do have alternatives.”
The Potters also have doubts over American defender Geoff Cameron after he missed the game with WBA with a calf strain while another USA star Brek Shea looks set to leave the club on loan in order to get some first team games.
Should Stoke achieve a result against his former employers then it would be the first time since October 2005 that United had gone three games without a win at home.