Manchester United
 Manchester United will be hoping to start their New Year with a win against Stoke CityReuters

Manchester United travel to the Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City in their first fixture of the New Year as they look to continue their winning ways in the Premier League.

The Red Devils had very good chance to close the gap between themselves and Chelsea after the latter was held in a 1-1 draw by Southampton in the last round of Premier League fixtures.

However, United were also only able to record a goal-less draw against Tottenham Hotspur, meaning that the Red Devils are still 10 points behind the Blues.

Still no one can argue that United have been doing brilliantly of late as they are currently in red hot form, registering seven wins from their last nine Premier League fixtures.

And Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal feels that his side have made a great improvement from the time they faced Stoke City in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in early December.

"I remember that match [against Stoke], as we were very weak at the end of the game," Van Gaal told United's official website. "You might remember me saying after that game that I needed to change the balance of my team. The balance of my team at that point was not as good as it is now."

However, the Dutch boss feels that United still need to improve their away form if they want to do well in the Premier League this season.

"I'm saying every week that we are improving and we have to show that against Stoke," added the former Bayern Munich boss.

"We have won every home game apart from Swansea in the first match of the season and Chelsea [1-1]; away from home, [we have only won at] Arsenal and Southampton. As I've said, against Southampton, we were lucky."

"We have to dominate games away from home. I have been told by Ryan Giggs that Stoke City's pitch is a very difficult one to play on. We have to show that we can dominate, in spite of the fact that it's difficult in Stoke."

Meanwhile, Stoke City will also be hoping to do well in their first game of the New Year despite the current form of Manchester United.

After their 0-2 loss against Chelsea, the Potters have been in decent form, recording wins in their last two Premier League games against Everton and West Bromwich.

Although the Potters are the underdogs in this game, manager Mark Hughes says that his side are looking forward to facing the Red Devils on Thursday.

"We're looking forward to going up against them," Hughes told Stoke City's official website. "We proved at their place that we can match them and our record against the bigger clubs since I joined the club is good, so we won't have any apprehension ahead of the game."

However, the former QPR boss admits that United are going to be a very formidable opponent due to their current form.

"United seem to have little bit more confidence but that comes from winning which they are doing at the moment," he added. "They will always be a strong side and a difficult opponent but maybe the change of management has changed their attitude and mentality."

Where to Watch Live

The match is scheduled for a 12:45pm GMT (6:15pm IST, 7:45am ET) start with Live coverage in India on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2. The EPL match can also be watched via live streaming online by viewers in India on

Live coverage on TV in the UK will be on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD, while viewers can also live stream the action on Sky Sports Online Player. Watch the game live in the US on NBCSN, while the 90 minutes of action can also be live streamed online on NBC Sports Extra.

Australia viewers can watch the game on Fox Sports 1 or live stream the action on Fox Sports On Demand.

Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can watch the match on Bein Sports Arabia or via Live Streaming online courtesy Bein Sports Connect, while South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa viewers can do the same on SuperSport or SuperSport online.

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