Fergie relishing Stoke battle

United boss looking forward to physical encounter

Sir Alex Ferguson: Looking forward to Stoke clash

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Sir Alex Ferguson is looking forward to facing Stoke on Tuesday night as Manchester United look to bounce back from their FA Cup exit to Liverpool.

The Potters will bring their own unique style of play to Old Trafford and a physical encounter with Tony Pulis' side would not be the ideal recovery game for many sides.

But whilst some big clubs have struggled against Stoke, United's draw at the Britannia Stadium in September was the first time they have dropped points against the Potters since they entered the Premier League in 2008.

"You know what Tony Pulis' team will be like, they are the same all the time," said Ferguson.

"They will be 100% committed and they always get stuck in. You have to cope with that.

"To be honest, I always enjoy it to.

Physical

"It was like when we used to play Wimbledon. No-one used to look forward to playing against them but my team started to because it was a physical challenge and in terms of taking the ball and playing football.

"Stoke are a different team altogether but they still have the same qualities of never giving in, so it is always a good challenge for us."

With the Europa League the only other competition the Red Devils are left in this season, the forthcoming Premier League ties with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are now of even greater importance.

Slip-ups

United are already three points behind rivals Manchester City and cannot afford anymore slip-ups as they go in search of a 20th league title.

Ferguson added: "It is a big programme.

"From the middle of January until we go to Tottenham, it looked quite a daunting programme.

"But when you go back years ago in our title campaigns, we have always had periods of must win-games in a row and that is what we have here.

"It is important to keep on City's coat-tails and hopefully come the important part of the season, we still are."

Responded

Jonny Evans is also backing United to bounce back in style against Stoke.

"We responded really well after the 6-1 defeat against City and then the losses against Blackburn and Newcastle around the turn of the year," Evans told the club's official website.

"We went on a great run after the City game and then after New Year we've beaten both City and Arsenal away. That's what this team does.

"Every player knows what is expected. When you're at Manchester United you know defeats like that aren't acceptable.

"We don't need anybody else to tell us that. We know it deep down."