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Stoke City vs Manchester United preview: Louis van Gaal at risk in crunch showdown

Manchester United travel to Stoke City on Boxing Day looking to avoid a third consecutive Premier League defeat which could spell trouble for boss Louis van Gaal.

The Dutchman has come under severe pressure in recent weeks as after seeing his side crash out of the Champions League, they have slipped out of the top four in the Premier League following back-to-back defeats by Bournemouth and Norwich City.

In turn, if the former Ajax boss wishes to hold on to his role, he will be fully aware of the importance of securing a positive result at the Britannia Stadium in what is unlikely to be an easy game.

Similarly for Mark Hughes though, it hasn’t been an easy December more recently after a goalless draw with West Ham United was followed by defeat at home to Crystal Palace.

As a result, the hosts will be desperate to get back on track as they bid to move up the table having dropped into he bottom half.

While they will be confident in their ability to pile further pressure on their rivals at the weekend, Hughes will undoubtedly be wary of the threat that his former club poses and will ensure that his side don’t underestimate the Red Devils.

Given their recent form, coupled with the speculation about Van Gaal’s future which led to a dramatic press conference on Wednesday, as reported by BBC Sport, it remains to be seen whether or not the Dutch tactician is still able to inspire his players to a better performance and result.

Defeat on Boxing Day could see the 64-year-old lose his job, and so he will be desperate to silence his critics with all three points.

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Van Gaal storms out of press conference (video)
Wenger defends Van Gaal amid speculation (video)
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