How do you make a match between Manchester United and Stoke City really boring? Well, ok, having a match between Manchester United and Stoke City means you're off to a fine start; the putative champions scoring a boring goal in the fourth minute means you have all the pieces in place for a snoozer.
Michael Carrick got things stopped when the Potters uncharacteristically failed to deal with a corner, allowing the ball to fall to the midfielder's feet from point blank range. Asmir Begovic was left utterly stranded as the shot was stabbed home, while everyone watching realised to their horror that the game was going to descend into utter, utter nothingness.
And so it was. Stoke pushed up, United held them at bay. The visitors attacked halfheartedly, Ryan Shawcross kicked Javier Hernandez. Jonathan Walters did some silly things. The wind did some silly things. Robin van Persie provided the game's only semi-compelling moment when he won and scored a penalty. Football has a lot to recommend it, but this match was utter dreck. There's not even a real title race to keep this interesting.