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12:45pm: Stoke City vs Manchester United

Britannia Stadium
The Britannia Stadium plays host to the first Boxing Day game. Getty Images

Full time: Stoke 2-0 Manchester United

Louis van Gaal asked for an apology from the media prior to the game for predicting his exit, but those questions will continue to come now after a fourth straight defeat at Stoke City. The Potters got the job done in the first half through Bojan and Marko Arnautovic and after that they were comfortable, with Jack Butland coming to their rescue on three occasions to prevent a comeback. Well that is all we have time for on this live blog, but go here for all the build-up and coverage of the 3pm kick-offs.

Chants of Jose Mourinho ring around the Britannia. Not clear if they are coming from the Stoke or United fans. Deep into stoppage time.

Butland saves again, this time denying Juan Mata after Wayne Rooney passed up the chance to shoot in the box. First time United have cut through Stoke but again they are denied.

Manchester United have run out of ideas and surely hope in their attempts to get back into this game. Looks like a fourth defeat in a row for Louis van Gaal. Can he survive this latest setback?

Jack Butland to the rescue just as Stoke were looking comfortable. Anthony Martial gets the ball middle of goal and he curls one goalwards and Butland pushes the ball for a corner.

Pereira's first involvement is to receive a booking for fouling Arnautovic as Stoke looked to break. A case of if the hosts will add to their lead, rather than if United will get a foothold as things stand.

Andres Pereira represents the final throw of the dice by Louis van Gaal. Ander Herrera the man replaced.

David de Gea tips away Bojan's cross from the edge of the six yard area. United's threat has certainly relented in the last 10 minutes and in truth bar Fellaini's effort from Rooney's cross, it is hard to think of a moment when Jack Butland has been forced into a desperation save. Hardly a response in the second half.

Mark Arnautovic
Arnautovic doubled Stoke's lead with a fine strike. Getty Images

Charlie Adam on for Geoff Cameron, who was never likely to last the full 90 minutes. Notable how Stoke's grip on the game has relented since the break up on their defensive midfield pair.

Into the last 20 minutes and United continue to press, with little success. Fellaini tees up Herrera on the edge of the box but as has been the way Stoke players throw themselves in the way of the effort. At the other end, Ashley Young denies Arnautovic the chance to make it three, cutting out a cross which had United in all sorts of bother.

An example of how threatening Stoke could be in this last quarter of the game as United continue to throw players forward in search of a way back into the game. Afellay draws defenders and surges to the edge of the box, feeds Arnautovic but cuts inside two players but can't get his shot away.

The visitors are having a lot of the ball but are becoming increasingly frustrated by a determined Stoke side and their goalkeeper Jack Butland. Mark Hughes will not be impressed with how the game has swung the way of United, though his side's two-goal lead does mean they can play on the counter.

United should have a goal back. Rooney wriggles away in the box and crosses for Fellaini who unmarked side-foots goalwards but Butland claws the ball away.

Bojan goes down in the United box as he appears to take a glancing blow from a United defender. Referee Neil Swarbrick, who overlooked a Anthony Martial dive in the first half, signals simulation and books the Spaniard. A tad harsh as it looked as though the Stoke man lost his feet as much as anything, and because of the inconsistency. United however need all the positives that can get.

Rooney straight into the action as he stands over a free-kick. He drifts the ball in, a cross which is held up in the wind and when Fellaini meets it he is adjudged to have handled the ball.

Wayne Rooney on for Manchester United as expected, with Memphis Depay off. Change for Stoke too as Mark van Ginkel replaces Glenn Whelan. Back under way at the Britannia.

Half time: Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United

Stoke add to the pressure on Louis van Gaal with two first half goals to lead at the Britannia Stadium. Bojan and Marko Arnautovic with the goals against the lacklustre visitors, who are without their captain Wayne Rooney - who will surely be introduced after the break. Mark Hughes' men have been impressive without being at their very best and they will feel good about keeping and adding to this lead after the break.

Stoke causing a lot of their own problems as quick United corners has them at sixes and sevens. First Depay and Martial combine and with Jack Butland looking set to claim the cross, Shawcross heads it from his own goalkeeper's grasp and behind. The subsequent set-piece is again headed behind by Shawcross into his own side-netting but the referee has seen an infringement so Stoke can breathe again.

Marko Arnautovic off the field having got treatment for a head injury following a coming together with Juan Mata. It looks like he will be ok to continue thankfully for Stoke.

United having a bit of a spell since the second goal, with Marouane Fellaini very much the focal point. Anthony Martial has pulled out into a wide right position with the hope of causing some problems for Erik Pieters. They do win a flurry of corners but they come to nothing.

Stoke should be out of sight here. Bojan plays Arnautovic clean through and he takes his shot early and fires wide of De Gea's goal. That could have been that and we're barely approaching half time.

Stoke fans are going though their full repertoire since going two up with "You're getting sacked in the morning" chants being directed towards Louis van Gaal. If this gets any worse for Manchester United that could become an increasing possibility for the Dutch coach.

Jack Butland keeps United from halving the lead almost immediately. Memphis Depay hits a free-kick from fully 30 yards which bounce in-front of the Stoke 'keeper, who keeps the ball out well before the ball falls the way of Marouane Fellaini who is in an offside position.

Goal: Stoke 2-0 Manchester United (Marko Arnautovic)

A Christmas cracker from Marko Arnautovic plunges Louis van Gaal into crisis at Manchester United. Bojan free-kick hits the United wall but when the ball comes back to Arnautovic he tees the ball up and lashes it home from 25 yards past David de Gea. Fabulous goal.

Goal: Stoke City 1-0 Manchester United (Bojan)

A late Christmas present from Memphis Depay helps Stoke City take the lead inside the first 20 minutes. The Dutchman's header back towards David de Gea is woefully short and Glen Johnson nips in, draws De Gea and pulls the ball back to Bojan to pokes home into an unguarded net. The pressure just ratcheted up on Louis van Gaal.

Memphis Depay curls a free-kick in from the United left but Jack Butland clutches the ball which was goalbound but did not have the pace to test the England goalkeeper.

Xherdan Shaqiri toying with a possession-starved Manchester United in the early stages and it takes a late tackle from Ander Herrera to end his latest foray down the left-hand side. The free is curled in towards the near post by the Swiss where a flick on cause all kinds of problems in the United defence and it allows Arnautovic the chance to take aim but the visitors block the effort and survive.

Ander Herrera has already forced a save out of Jack Butland and now it is Stoke's turn to test David de Gea, but Arnautovic's free-kick is wide of the near post. Poor effort from a good area 25 yards from goal.

Treacherous conditions for both goalkeepers today, but there defenders aren't making life easy for them. Marko Arnautovic sends a heavy backpass the way of Jack Butland whose first touch sees the ball loop into the air but after Memphis Depay wins the header on, Ryan Shawcross desperately clears the danger.

I wrote about the chaos Xherdan Shaqiri could cause today and he is straight into the action. Played in by Afellay he cross first time but there is no Stoke player around to put the ball into a near empty net.

Under way at the Britannia Stadium. No need to exaggerate the significance of this game for Louis van Gaal. Massive 90 minutes in prospect.

Michael Carrick will captain Manchester United today, with opposite number Ryan Shawcross leading out his Stoke City team. Formerly of Old Trafford is the Potters skipper of course. Can he put Van Gaal closer to the exit door? Players out at the Britannia.

Both managers have been speaking to broadcasters Sky Sports:

Mark Hughes: "We have Geoff Cameron back and it give us a dynamism in there and we lack a bit of height when he is not in there. It is a game we are looking froward to and we need to maximise our advantages."

Louis van Gaal: "We have a game plans and it was better to play with Herrera than Rooney. We have done very well. I have seen a fantastic attitude from my players and I have full belief."

Stoke may be the marginal favourites this afternoon, but their recent record against United suggests Louis van Gaal could be in store for a confidence boosting win. The Potters have won one of their 14 Premier League meetings against United, that coming just over 12 months ago in December 2014. Otherwise it is 11 wins out of 14 in the top flight for the 20-time English champions.

Chelsea and Manchester City are listed among the victims slayed by Stoke this season, but it has been the games against the likes of Sunderland, Watford and West Brom means Mark Hughes' side have perhaps not got the results their stylish philosophy suggests they should have.

The scrutiny on Van Gaal is set to swell further should United lose today, having omitted his captain Wayne Rooney from his starting eleven today. The United coach says the trip to Stoke is a must win, so it appears strange that he would choose to leave out his captain from a game of such enormity. Rooney's form has been criticised all season long so perhaps his omission is not a surprise, but for a game of such significance it seems a strange move. Rooney fronted up to the media on Christmas Eve on behalf of the players to reaffirm the squad's confidence in the manager, but that has not been be followed by his retention in the team.

The walls are certainly closing in on Louis van Gaal and his remarkable sub-five minute press conference on Wednesday suggests that the pressure and the strain is getting to the Dutch coach. He demanded an apology from the assembled media earlier in the week for writing his obituary following a fifth game without a win against Norwich City, but he may be the one issuing the apologies if that miserable run continues against Stoke City today.

The wet weather particularly in the north has hit a number of football league games, including Middlesbrough's trip to Blackburn Rovers in the Championship. No Premier League games have yet fallen foul of the weather but we will keep you posted if there are any developments.

A look at the team sheets given to members of the media at the Britannia and it confirms that Cameron will go into that midfield role at the base, so very much like for like with Van Ginkel dropping to the bench. United will have to try and keep Stokes' fabulous front four quiet, with Xherdan Shaqiri the key man as the creative force. He has done for Manchester United before, having knocking them out of the Champions League while playing for FC Basel in 2011.

Stoke have made just one change from the loss to Palace last time out, and it is a surprising one as Geoff Cameron returns from a hamstring injury and he replaces Marco van Ginkel. Expect the American to slot into that holding midfield role which he has made his own.

The big news emanating from the Britannia Stadium is Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been dropped from the team for the first time by Louis van Gaal. England's record goalscorer has been full of support for the under fire United coach but that hasn't been enough to keep his place in the team. Anthony Martial will lead the attack. Ander Herrera is back too, with Ashley Young at right back.


Stoke: Butland; Johnson, Wollscheid, Sahwcross, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan; Afellay, Arnautovic, Shaqiri; Bojan

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Jones, Blind, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini, Memphis, Martial

We might be approaching midday but congratulations to anyone who has withdrawn themselves from their duvet/turkey/wine to join me for the first of 10 matches in the Premier League. Your presence is much appreciated. Hopefully we will have some entertainment for you to make it al worthwhile. If not, please feel to retreat to any of the aforementioned areas.

We're expecting the teams to be confirmed any minute now, but while we wait what do we already know about how the sides will line up?

Geoff Cameron and Peter Crouch are both out for Stoke. Crouch has returned to training after a groin problem while Cameron has a hamstring injury which has saw him miss the defeat to Crystal Palace.

Matteo Darmian is not expected to feature for Manchester United despite returning to fitness after a hamstring issue. Bastain Schweinsteiger is out as he serves the final game of his three-match suspension.

Festive greetings from IBTimes UK. Welcome the first in a feast of football on this fine Boxing Day. Ten games in the Premier League to enjoy as you gorge on those turkey sandwiches and find a use for those unwanted Christmas presents, starting with Manchester United's trip to Stoke City. Louis van Gaal was full of anything but festive cheer during his pre-match press conference before the game, storming out after less than five minutes following questions over his future. Stoke meanwhile have had an up and down season but victory over Manchester City earlier this month suggest their talented side can still produce a shock, even if goals are hard to come by. Stoke and United's team news on the way.