Capital One Cup Preview: Stoke City - Manchester United

Peter Hanson
Capital One Cup Preview: Stoke City - Manchester United

Manchester United manager David Moyes will be keen for his side to continue its upturn in form in the Capital One Cup quarterfinal battle with Stoke City.

The Premier League champion went four top-flight games without victory over the end of November and beginning of December, including back-to-back 1-0 defeats at Old Trafford to Everton and Newcastle.

United has improved in its last two fixtures however, beating Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 in its final Champions League group game before comfortably seeing off Aston Villa 3-0 in the league on Sunday.

And Moyes is now targeting continued improvement, with United looking to make the semifinals of the competition for the first time since winning the trophy in 2010 in a visit to the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday.

"[Our play] continually has to improve and it will improve," he told Sky Sports in the aftermath of their victory over Villa. "I'll make sure it gets better in the coming month."

United has seen off challenges from Liverpool and Norwich City to make it this far and will be confident of claiming the scalp of Mark Hughes's side, with Stoke having never beaten the Red Devils in the Premier League.

Indeed, the Potters' last victory over United in any competition came in a 2-1 League Cup triumph in September 1993 thanks to a double from Mark Stein.

However, at that time, ties in the competition were staged over two legs and United progressed courtesy of a 2-0 success at Old Trafford.

Former Red Devils striker Hughes is looking to orchestrate Stoke's best performance in the competition since a 2-1 triumph over Chelsea in the 1972 final. The club has twice reached the quarterfinal stage since then - most recently in the 2008-09 season, when it lost 1-0 to Derby County.

Stoke heads into this game on the back of two draws and a win in the top flight, with 0-0 stalemates against Cardiff City and Hull City sandwiching a superb 3-2 triumph over Chelsea.

Center back Robert Huth (knee) is ruled out for the hosts, while United will definitely be without Robin van Persie (thigh) and Michael Carrick (Achilles).