Pressure -- that's what the entire Manchester United camp are feeling at the moment, going into their Boxing Day 2015 fixture on Saturday. The Red Devils face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
Christmas 2015 has not been good at all for one person especially -- United manager Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman faced a torrid time in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, and had no option but to walk out after spending just four minutes and 58 seconds in the media interaction.
Van Gaal was continously being asked about his future at the Theatre of Dreams after recent results, which saw the Red Devils without a win in their last four EPL games; their last two fixtures turned out to be defeats (against Bournemouth and Norwich).
Meanwhile, emerging reports have stated that the fate of the former Netherlands boss depends on the results against Stoke today, and against Chelsea on Monday.
Manchester United are currently fifth in the Premier League with 29 points from 17 games, while Stoke City are on 23 points. The Potters also don't have a win from their last two games, but United must be wary that Stoke defeated Manchester City with a 2-0 scoreline earlier this month.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes, meanwhile, has a worry. He is aware of the current dilemma United are facing, and Hughes thinks his side could bear the wrath of a resurgent Red Devils today.
"I have been asked whether this is a good time to play them [Manchester United] but I am always wary of that because these type of clubs more often than not bounce back emphatically," Hughes said ahead of the game.
Van Gaal, meanwhile, no matter how disappointed or worried he is, still believes that his side can get the result today. "We are not in a good position but four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League, and in four weeks' time we can be back in that position again," the Dutch coach said.
"I only say now I am focused on Stoke City. I help my players."
Stoke City: Hughes has a worry as most of his players -- Geoff Cameron (hamstring), Peter Crouch (hamstring), Marc Muniesa (hamstring), Stephen Ireland (hamstring, 9 Jan), Shay Given (knee) -- remain on the sidelines.
Manchester United: Bastian Schweinsteiger will not be part of the game as he serves his final match ban, while Matteo Darmian (hamstring knock), Antonio Valencia (ankle), Luke Shaw (broken leg), Jesse Lingard (hamstring), Marcos Rojo (shoulder, unknown), are still on the sidelines.
Possible starting XI
Stoke City: Butland; Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters, Johnson; Whelan, Adam; Shaqiri, Krkic, Arnautovic; Diouf.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Yong, Blind; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Mata, Rooney, Depay; Martial.
Where to watch the game
Boxing Day 2015: Stoke City vs Manchester United is scheduled to kick-off at 12:45 pm GMT (6:15 pm IST, 7:45 am EST) on Saturday, 26 December.
In the UK and Ireland, viewers can catch the game on Sky Sports 1/HD UK and Now TV. Online streaming will be available on Sky Go and Sky Go Extra. Radio commentary of the game will be available on BBC Radio 5 Live.