Football.com - everything football

Premier League preview: Stoke v Manchester United

By Football News



Manchester United are in pole position to reclaim their Premier League crown but a second successive loss would send jitters through the camp.

United head to Stoke on Sunday, having had their lead on top of the table reduced after falling to a 2-1 defeat against Manchester rivals and defending champions City on Monday.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men are 12 points clear at the summit with seven games to go, and remain in the box seat to capture a record 20th title.

But having already bowed out of the Champions League and FA Cup in the past month, United midfielder Antonio Valencia says the club is determined to secure the title as soon as possible.

"We're a little worried. It has already happened to us," Valencia told Ecuadorian radio station Sonorama.

"Last year, having eight points with seven games to go we lost the league, and now we have seven games and 12 points, we don't want this to happen again.

"We want to finish off the two games that are coming as soon as possible, starting off in the right way and ending up victorious."

United have not tasted defeat on the road since their surprise 1-0 loss to Norwich in November last year, a run stretching eight games.

And they will be buoyed by Stoke's recent form that has them embroiled in a relegation scrap.

After starting the season brightly, losing just three of their first 20 matches, Tony Pulis' men have been on a steady decline, sitting just three points clear of the drop zone.

The 2011 FA Cup finalists are in the midst of a six-game winless run after Saturday's loss at the hands of relegation rivals Aston Villa, and have recorded only one win in their past 13 outings.

Stoke's head-to-head record against United doesn't make for good reading either, having never won a Premier League match against the Red Devils, losing eight of their nine previous meetings in England's top flight.