A battle of two midtable clubs without the chance to shake up their standing much with this match, if at all, this battle between Manchester United and Stoke City also presents us with a fairly intriguing reversal of roles.
A few years ago, Manchester were one of the highest-flying and most entertaining sides in England. Stoke were a grind-it-out team that played boring, defensive football that everyone hated because they were so hard to watch. Fast forward to this season, and one team is that exciting and the other is that dour -- but now it's Stoke opening eyes and getting the blood pumping, while Manchester could very likely put you to sleep or make you change the channel.
It's a testament to the success of Mark Huges at Stoke and the struggles of Louis Van Gaal that these two teams find themselves in this position. Stoke have completely revamped their team, changing their style and direction and frame of mind. Manchester have tried to keep on like everything is the same and fine and dandy, but the truth has been anything but. It will be interesting to see how those trends play into this match, because it feels like these teams' change in fortunes could just be building towards something of an upset -- especially after Stoke's 2-0 win over Manchester at the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day.
Key player -- Bojan Krkic (Stoke City)
With Marko Arnautovic a doubt due to injury and at less than 100 percent if he does play, more of the attacking onus for Stoke is going to fall on Bojan than it usually does. Stoke are, of course, fine with that -- the Spaniard has been excellent this season following season-ending knee surgery a year ago, and from his role playing behind the striker he'll be looking to exploit any space Manchester's defense leaves or mistakes they make. He's been a joy to watch, and if he can get rolling early in this match Manchester might wind up with more than they can handle.
Key matchup -- Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Manchester United) vs. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)
Despite being an inexperienced teenager, Borthwick-Jackson has been forced into starting duties recently for Manchester thanks to yet another rash of defensive injuries. In this match he'll be going up against an experienced and tricky winger in Shaqiri, and a player who's very capable of exploiting even the smallest mistakes for his team's benefit. If Borthwick-Jackson gets shaky at all, Shaqiri is going to turn him inside out and having him spinning around in circles before he can even blink.
Manchester United injuries and suspensions
Out: Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw
Stoke City injuries and suspensions
Out: Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Charlie Adam, Geoff Cameron In doubt: Marko Arnautovic
Match date/time: Tues., 3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. local
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
TV: Sportsnet regional networks (Canada)
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra (US), Sportsnet World Now (Canada)