Manchester United allowed rival Manchester City to emerge from Old Trafford with three points. While the Red Devils are still 12 points clear in the title race with seven matches to go, it adds a little more intrigue to the situation for the time being.
Another loss or two by United paired with victories by City would suddenly put the championship back up for grabs. So the Red Devils must bear down over the next stretch of matches, starting against Stoke City on Sunday, and lock up the title sooner rather than later.
On the flip side, Stoke have fallen into a relegation battle after a six-match winless streak. The Potters got off to a strong start thanks to effective tactics on defense, but the sheer lack of ability to create scoring chances has doomed the club recently.
It's a key match for both sides, albeit for completely different reasons. Here's a look at all the important information for the Premier League clash, followed by a breakdown of some players to watch and a match prediction.
Where: Britannia Stadium in Stoke, England
When: Sunday, April 14 at 9:05 a.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Stoke City Player to Watch: Jon Walters
Stoke are one of only three clubs averaging less than a goal per game this season and rank dead last in the Premier League scoring. The Potters have only scored once over their past three games, further illustrating their struggles to create opportunities.
Walters leads the club with six league goals. It's a spot he's continued to hold despite scoring just once in his last 11 appearances. Part of that is due to his teammates' inability to get him the ball in dangerous scoring areas, but he's also failed to capitalize on the chances he did receive.
If Stoke is going to earn at last a point and avoid falling even further into the relegation battle, Walters must be able to break free and put some pressure on the United back line. Otherwise, the Red Devils will pull away with relative ease.
Manchester United Player to Watch: David de Gea
Ever since the January transfer window, when there was a lot of talk about United look at other goalkeepers, De Gea has elevated his level of play. The 22-year-old Spanish keeper has finally started showing off his potential on a more consistent basis.
It's never been a question of talent, but rather consistency and ability to handle pressure. Playing with the Red Devils means there are always going to be a lot of key matches on the schedule. It took him some time to get up for that challenge, but he's getting closer to reaching that point.
He probably won't see a ton of action on Sunday. It makes stopping the shots that do come his way more important because the Stoke back line is capable of keeping the United attack at bay for awhile. One counterattack goal for Stoke and suddenly United is playing from behind again.
Matchup to Watch: Stoke defense vs. United attack
The Potters' defenders have been tremendous throughout the campaign. The club ranks sixth in goals allowed, which is even more impressive when you consider the back line has been under constant attack. That's what happens when a club can't generate offense.
Stoke faces a tough challenge in the league-leading Red Devils' attack. Even though Robin van Persie has been slumping recently, Wayne Rooney and Co. are still dangerous. And it's only a matter of time before Van Persie gets back on track.
United is likely going to dominate possession, as they did in a 4-2 victory over the Potters earlier in the campaign. If Stoke have any hope of earning at least a draw, they must find a way to step up defensively. There's no way they can keep pace otherwise.
Manchester United 2, Stoke City 0
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