Preamble Evening. The slogan for this game is simple: it's Delap v De Gea. Ever since David de Gea signed for Manchester United, casual xenophobes and ABUs have been frantically rubbing their thighs in anticipation of his trial by long throw. It's a bit of a cliché, of course, and there is so much more to what should be a fascinating clash. Equally, it would be daft to ignore the fact that De Gea is likely to have a character-building 90 minutes ahead. So will a young, injury-ravaged United, on a ground where Stoke have lost only once in 2011.
Team news There's no Wayne Rooney, as keen followers of Coleen Rooney's Twitter page will have deduced last night. Rooney has a hamstring strain; his absence means the return of Berbarotica™.
Stoke (4-4-2) Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson; Pennant, Whelan, Delap, Etherington; Walters, Crouch.
Substitutes: Sorensen, Huth, Whitehead, Upson, Shotton, Jerome, Palacios.
Manchester United (4-4-2) De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Anderson, Young; Hernandez, Berbatov.
Substitutes: Lindegaard, Owen, Giggs, Park, Welbeck, Fabio, Valencia.
Referee Peter Walton.
Prediction on which you are advised not to stake your mortgage, or even four pence Stoke 3-2 United.
Jonny Evans has injured himself in the warm-up, so Antonio Valencia will come into the side at right-back, with Phil Jones moving into the middle.
Stoke (4-4-2) Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson; Pennant, Whelan, Delap, Etherington; Walters, Crouch.
Substitutes: Sorensen, Huth, Whitehead, Upson, Shotton, Jerome, Palacios.
Manchester United (4-4-2) De Gea; Valencia, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Anderson, Young; Hernandez, Berbatov.
Substitutes: Lindegaard, Owen, Giggs, Park, Welbeck, Fabio, Macheda.
Referee Peter Walton.
1 min Manchester United kick off from right to left. They are booed for doing so.
2 min Pennant wins a corner inside the first minute. Etherington plays it short, and Stoke make a bit of a balls of it. No idea what they were doing there, as they should surely have put it under the crossbar. Anyway, it leads to the first throw in, down the right. Delap fires it in, De Gea charges from his line but doesn't hold it, and eventually Valencia clears.
3 min That should have been a penalty for United. Hernandez broke beyond a flat-footed defence onto a deflected pass, moved into the area and was shoved clumsily from behind by Woodgate That knocked Hernandez off balance, and he collided with the keeper as he fell. He's in a bit of pain, and is currently receiving treatment. That should have been a penalty, and probably a red card for Woodgate.
4 min "It's my first day at university today and my accumulator is all set to come in... If United win," says George Solomon. "I'm sure you and your readers would agree this is a good enough excuse to all get behind United, so my first night out is paid for." It's your first day at uni and you're on the MBM. Come on, man! It's your first day at uni, the greatest day of your life! I'll never forget mine: inane small talk, Susie from Essex with the green Puma retro trainers, inane small talk, more inane small talk. The best day ever.
5 min Sir Alex Ferguson is prowling the touchline furiously, even more so now after a shocking tackle from Glenn Whelan on Patrice Evra near the halfway line. A clear yellow card.
6 min Hernandez is still off the field.
8 min Hernandez is limping down the tunnel. They've just shown the penalty incident again. Woodgate got a slight stud on the ball, but that's irrelevant because he shoved Hernandez from behind. I think it's a clear penalty, although Craig Burley on ESPN says it was 50/50. How many caps has he won?
9 min "Can we have Susie from Essex's side of the story?" says Gary Naylor. "Preferably from Mac Millings." Oh I only spoke to her about Menswe@r and other hip Britpop bands. I wasn't that competent a human being.
10 min A long throw from Delap causes more problems, with De Gea staying on his line this time. Eventually Pennant's shot is blocked. Stoke are causing lots of problems here.
11 min A glorious solo run down the left wing from the remarkable Phil Jones ends with a chipped cross that is headed behind for a corner. Jones appealed for handball and a penalty, vehemently so, but it looked okay on first viewing. Before the corner is taken, Michael Owen replaces Hernandez.
12 min "I'm neither casual xenophobe nor ABU (okay, maybe a little) but I haven't found De Gea to be overly convincing for United so far," says Niall Mullen. "That said I am rubbing my thighs with glee. Although that has nothing to do with the football." Of all the deviant gestures – or at least the ones you can show before the watershed – there is nothing as terrifying as watching a man drag his palms up and down his thighs with a gleeful look on his face. Thank goodness Killer BOB didn't do it in Twin Peaks. Can you imagine the horror?
13 min Anyone reading? What do you remember about your first day at university? Somebody must have a funny/cute/life-affirming/criminality-based story. It is pretty much the best day of most of our lives.
14 min Delap's long throw is headed behind for a corner, again with De Gea staying on his line. From the resulting corner, Crouch is penalised for clambering all over Phil Jones. He headed wide from a couple of yards anyway, but these are very good signs for Stoke.
15 min "You're not blogging anymore," says Tony. "You're not blo-o-ogging aneeeemore...." What does that even mean?
16 min "Ohhh," adds Tony, whose emails are adding so much to tonight's MBM.
17 min United haven't really got going at all as an attacking force. The Hernandez chance came from nothing, and they haven't really put three or four passes together. You could argue that they are without five first-choice players – Rooney, Hernandez, Vidic, Smalling and Cleverley – so this is a serious opportunity for Stoke.
19 min Berbatov heads Anderson's corner wide from 10 yards. It was a tricky chance, as he had to jump backwards to meet the ball.
20 min "So, you managed to corner a girl, and then instead of trying to put the moves on you talked about naff Britpop bands?" says Nick Honeywell. "Clearly you're a man who doesn't believe in being brave." To be fair, Nick, it was 1995. Wearing Fred Perry polos and talking about Britpop were on page 1 of all good university guides.
21 min It's been an interesting game, as it usually is when Stoke play at home to the big boys, but in terms of actual football it's been a stinker – an "incoherent swirl of energy", to use the splendid phrase with which Hugh McIlvanney damned English football in the 1970s. Stoke have played the more coherent football, in fact.
22 min Pennant is receiving treatment. He appeared to twist his knee, under no pressure from any defenders. The camera cuts to the Manchester United, where Jonny Evans is smiling like a man who's avoided a firing squad. It's the reverse of the old here's-what-you-could-have-won ending on Bullseye.
23 min "First day at university? I distinctly remember beer was 28p for a pint of Adnams. And that's about all," says Steve McCabe, aged 149. Twenty-eight pence?!
25 min Pennant is back on the field. He and Etherington have switched wings. This is an awful game. That will suit Stoke, who have certainly been the dominant side, even though they haven't created much.
26 min Michael Owen touches the ball. Call him up Fabio!
GOAL! Stoke 0-1 Manchester United (Nani 27) What a wonderful goal from Nani. He played a sharp one-two with Fletcher, running off Pennant, and then zipped between Walters and Whelan. That took him to the touch of the edge of the box, where he swerved inside Woodgate before dragging a precise left-footed shot into the corner at the near post. Magnificent.
28 min David de Gea makes a wonderful reflex save, pushing Wilkinson's shot onto the bar. A cross from the right was only half cleared and came to the onrushing Wilkinson at the edge of the box. He touched it forward and then hammered the ball towards the near post from 10 yards. De Gea thrust his right hand above his left shoulder to push the ball onto the bar and wide. His reflexes are exceptional.
29 min > "I would appreciate anonymity for this story," says a man who shall remain anonymous just so long as he transfers £500 to my bank account every week for the next year. "On my first day at university I took offence at a comment one of my new blockmates said about my beloved United. So in retaliation I urinated on his bed and laptop. We have gone on to be friends but to this day he is still unaware. Football does terrible things to men." I am less speech.
32 min Nani misses an open goal. Well, sort of an open goal. Shawcross played a dodgy back pass to Begovic, who was closed down instantly by Young. Begovic dragged the ball round Young but it came to Nani, on the edge of the box, and he put it over the bar. It wasn't a really easy chance, because Begovic and a defender were closing in, but he should surely have scored.
33 min "With Woodgate escaping a red card, that makes four times already this season that a United opponent has not been sent off when clearly should have gone, Arshavin, Davies, and Cole being the others can easily think of," says Jonathan Francis. "How many dangerous and injury-causing tackles must United endure before an English referee does his job competently? And what would United's goal differential be if that had been the case?" It seems clear to me that there is an imbalance in terms of the focus on decisions for and against United, and that perpetuates the perception that all referees favour United. It's just the way it is in this peculiar country.
35 min Another great save from De Gea. Walters picked up a loose ball on the right side of the box and drove an excellent cross shot through the legs of Evra. It was going in the far corner, but De Gea plunged to his right to turn it round brilliantly. He didn't get quite as strong a hand on it as he would have liked – it sort of slithered through his hands and wide of the far post – but the reflexes and agility were again superb. From the corner, De Gea is nowhere when Woodgate heads over. He was blocked off by one of the Stoke players, I'm not sure who.
38 min A smooth interception from Jones leads a corner on the left for Stoke. It's header clear by Fletcher. At least I think he headed it, although Walters appealed for handball.
39 min "I know it's early days yet, but I'm already looking forward to Phil Jones the midfielder rather than defender," says Patrick Cullen. "With the forward runs he seems capable of and defensive abilities, surely he'd look good in midfield beside Anderson, instead of someone like Fletcher?" Yes, that's a fascinating option, and he played there for Blackburn. In a sense he's almost too good to play at centre half, but I think that's where he'll end up. He's the most mature young player I've seen in years.
41 min Nani – who is being booed after waving his hands at the crowd a minute ago – plays the ball in towards Owen at the near post. He tries to move away from Shawcross, but his lack of pace foils that masterplan.
44 min For a game with barely any goalmouth incident, this has been a frenetic bugger to MBM.
45 min There will be four minutes of added time, the result of those injuries to Hernandez and Pennant.
45+1 min Another wonderful run from Jones. He went from the halfway line into the box, and his left-footed shot was blocked at the expense of corner. The boy is astonishing. He moves so smoothly and has a devastating change of pace. In fact his surges from the back bring to mind the wonderful Morten Olsen. Franz Morten Gaetano Laurent Phil Jones.
Half time: Stoke 0-1 Manchester United Many thought David de Gea would be the weak link today. In fact he is the reason United are ahead. He made two sensational saves, and Nani scored a glorious goal to give United a precarious lead. See you in 10 minutes.
"First day at uni? That is a bit elitist. How about first day at much more down to earth Ayr Technical College. For all of us who could not get into any university, it was like school with bigger, crazier folk. It was not the best day of my life. No Freshers Week. No live bands, even though it was 1976 and the music scene was just about to explode and no exotic mixture of students from all around the world, just a few folk from Kilmarnock and Irvine to add to all of us from Ayr. Oh, less than Happy Days" – Ronnie.
"Steve McCabe, aged 149? Decimal ponds were introduced in 1971. In 1968 on my first day at uni beer was 1s 9d" – Peter CS.
"I don't mind my name being published - my first day at Nottingham Uni involved a 'Roman Toga' party in our Hall. Two corridor mates irritated me to the point that I visited their shared bathroom and hoisting my Toga out the way relieved myself all over their bathroom floor" – Erica Power.
"On my first day at University I made an enemy of the entire population of the student union bar by putting the Charlatans' "The Only One I Know" on five times in succession. This was, I still maintain, an entirely justifiable reaction to the idiot who'd put the odious "Champagne Supernova" on twice. However, it seems as though I am the loser here given that one of my firstdayatuni "friends" started singing "the only song I know...", lyrics that. to this day, I still find myself singing, thus virtually ruining what was a favourite of mine. As Bruce Campbell said "Who's laughing now?"" – Sam Tarr.
"I remember nothing of my first day at university, because the night before my first day was spent in the union bar. I recall a group of us getting about six pints each in at 7.00pm to mark the end of half-price happy hour (saving as much as 17p on each pint). But I don't recall much else until about Christmas" – Gary Naylor.
"I was unfairly forced into assisting in demonstrating rhythmic aerobics by an instructor who clearly got off on her own cruelty. Initially, all was well as gyrated away in front of just a handful of people I'd likely never see again. Things quickly went pear-shaped however when several dozen people, which also included a number of my friends, entered the room for a viewing session. Needless to say, I haven't returned to that sports hall since..." – CG.
"Ah, first day at university.... A combination of tears (I was very young, ill grandmother at home, and not going to my first choice school) and hilarity. I arrived at my dormitory to find my roommate and her mother constructing a loft for her bed out of pine boards and long threaded bolts. My roommate's mom greeted me with a warm smile, opened the box of bolts and offered one, chuckling mischievously, "Would you like a screw?" I stifled a laugh as I heard my own mother gasp behind me. Still friends with my roomie and her mom years later. Wonderful folks" – Holly Masturzo.
46 min Stoke kick off from right to left. Often, when United lead at half-time, you tend to think the game is almost done. Not today.
47 min "Jones is probably the best talent this country has seen since Rooney," says Aniket Chowdhury. "But I am a bit confused that why wasn't the hype on when he was playing at Blackburn. I ask this, because all the plaudits he has been getting are for his individual skills. Whether it is making a solo run, or nutmegging defenders, or organizing the defence, those qualities should have been obvious six months back." I hardly saw him last year, I guess that's the same for a lot of people. I know one very good judge of a player who has been raving about him for the best part of a year, and made a point of watching as many Blackburn games as possible just to see Jones. There is also, I guess, an element of Jones taking his game to the next level upon joining United. That often happens with good players.
48 min A very quiet start to the half.
50 min "Do you reckon Ray Stubbs asks questions off air in the same way?" says Nick Trim. "His poor wife, arms all pumped and tense, furrowed brow, do you want a cup of tea love, do you? What do you think, milk?!! sugar!!!? What do you think?!?! Is he alright do you think, it's all so intense. Maybe we should get him to ask George why he isn't already hammered on his first night of university making friends with people he will never speak to again and girls way out of his league..."
51 min Young turns Wilkinson smartly in the box and then hammers a low ball across the face of the six-yard area. Owen, under pressure from Shawcross, can only get a slight touch on it and it drifts out for a goal kick.
GOAL! Stoke 1-1 Manchester United (Crouch 52) Peter Crouch scores his first goal for Stoke, and of course it came from a set piece. It was swung in from the right by Etherington, De Gea stayed on his line, and Crouch leapt above Jones to plant a header in from six yards.
54 min Do you blame De Gea for that goal? I'm not sure. Craig Burley on ESPN thinks he should have come for it. Anyway, there's no time, because United are back on the attack and Berbatov's well-struck shot from the edge of the box is comfortably saved by Begovic.
55 min De Gea makes another crucial save. A deep angled cross from Pennant was missed by the leaping Ferdinand at the back post. That allowed Crouch to chest it down and then strike the bouncing ball towards goal from only six yards. It hit the arm of De Gea and flew over the bar.
56 min "That's one," says Nathan Woods. "WOOO HOOOO!" Yes, yes, somebody has just gone to the trouble of sending that email into a national newspaper website. Good job we don't publish any old rubbi- oh.
58 min "Is Ferguson going to have the stones to sub Owen?" says Alex Netherton. Owen is a total waste of a shirt. He has hardly touched the ball. It's not his fault; his legs have gone. Even if he scores, I'm not sure that's a fair trade. Would you start a match with 10 men and a one-goal lead? I don't know. Anyway, surely we need a new verb for subbing the sub: to Ali Dia, perhaps.
59 min A good spell of possession for United, although it's harmless stuff, all played in front of Stoke. I still fancy Stoke to win this. It's got that smell.
60 min The camera cuts to a Stoke fan in a Shrek mask. Insert your own Wayne Rooney joke here.
61 min "Of course you blame De Gea," says Matt. "It's an inswinging ball onto the 5th yard. It should ALWAYS be the keeper's! My impression is that De Gea has been told to stay on the line for all set pieces by Sir Alex, the grand master himself recognising that it's shotstopping that the Spaniard is good at and not set pieces. My impression is Ferguson will be looking for another keeper shortly." I have to disagree, at least the last bit. De Gea actually came a long way for the first couple of set pieces, and maybe he revised his gameplan after that. Ferguson clearly has long-term plans for De Gea, and I'd be astonished if he deviated from those. As for the goal, maybe it was his fault. I haven't had chance to think about it properly.
63 min "Owen off, Wellbeck on, would you do it?" says Patrick Cullen. "It's "wrong", as he's a sub himself, but he just hasn't got the pace..." I would bring myself on for Owen. It's not Owen's fault, and in a sense I feel sorry for him. But if you watch him in a Premier League fixture, especially away from home, the game just completely passes him by. He will still get the odd goal, and might score the winner today, but he contributes so little to the general play.
65 min Stoke appeal for a penalty when Pennant goes down under a challenge from Evra. The ball ricochets towards Crouch on the six-yard line, and De Gea decides to boot it clear with his feet. That was a bit odd. Not sure about the penalty appeal; they haven't shown a replay yet.
66 min "Thought it might interest you that Joe Cole has just scored for Lille," says Steve. "When was the last time an English player scored in the French league?" Tony Cascarino? (Yes, yes, I know, but come on.) Chris Waddle?
67 min Stoke are starting to take control of the game. Valencia leaves a high foot on Walters, 20 yards from goal. It's a free-kick for Stoke, fractionally left of centre...
68 min ... and Wilson brings a save from De Gea. He welted it right through the wall, towards the centre of the goal, and De Gea almost got to his knees to punch it clear with both fists.
69 min Ashley Young brings a decent save from Begovic with a fierce shot from the right side of the box. Moments later there's a big shout for a United penalty when Evra's shot hits the outstretched arm of Shawcross. That looked a penalty as well, although I'd like to see a replay to be sure. The linesman's flag went up – but in fact it was to give Owen offside. Yet Owen hadn't touched the ball. That was an offside decision from 1988, not 2011. Craig Burley is furious on ESPN, describing the non-penalty as a "ridiculous decision".
70 min A double substitution for United: Giggs and Welbeck replace Young and Berbatov.
72 min Patrice Evra is limping off, and United have used all their subs. Jon Walters accidentally studded him in the shin as they went for a bouncing ball. I don't know if he'll be back on or not. They're shown a replays of the penalty incident. I would say it was a penalty, though not as clear as the one in the first half.
73 min Evra's back on now.
74 min "Phil Jones is getting rave reviews now because he is a very rare beast – a ball-playing English defender; because he is in a team who will give him possession and options far more often than Blackburn did; and because it's the start of the season when two decent matches can make anyone be talked up as a world-beater," says Gary Naylor. "None of that matters unless he can defend of course - by which I mean defend when up against top players in form. He'll find that a diet of tiramisu and brandy (ie flogging a beaten Arsenal) needs to be supported by spinach and potatoes (ie defending Delap's throw-ins against Peter Crouch) or he'll end up the footballing equivalent of me – fit only for a seat on the sidelines. Now, where's that bottle of armagnac?"
75 min De Gea makes an excellent claim from Pennant's dangerous cross. That's his best of the day, in terms of dealing with crosses and throw ins.
76 min After another good solo run, Nani's long-range shot is deflected over for a corner. Giggs swings it out from the left, and Delap heads clear. It comes back to Evra, who plays a gorgeous ball inside the full back for Giggs. He eases it invitingly across the face of the box, where Owen is lurking, but Shawcross gets there just in front of him to concede another corner.
77 min Owen, 15 yards out, heads Jones's cross over the bar.
78 min "Is Manchester United's bubble bursting?" says Robert Bieniek. Definitely. Fergie out!
79 min A few of you have said that Shawcross's arm was tucked in by his side for the penalty appeal. It's hard to tell, as I haven't seen a full replay. But the consensus is that it probably was not a penalty.
80 min "At the risk of sounding like a complete pedant," says Philip Hucknall, "I believe the last Englishman to score in the French league was Joe Cole, against St. Etienne a couple of weeks ago. Sorry. For everything."
81 min A crafty run from Giggs, including a nutmeg on Wilkinson, ends with Shawcross booting the ball clear from on the six-yard line.
83 min Ferdinand concedes a corner down the right. Before it can be taken, the limping Andy Wilkinson is replaced by Robert Huth. The corner will be swung in by Ethertington... and it's headed just wide by Crouch. That was a chance. He was beyond the far post, with De Gea in no man's land, but Jones did enough to put him off and Crouch couldn't get his header back across goal.
84 min "Michael Owen's legs went after serious injury over eight years ago," says Toby Ebbs. "But his eye for goal never left him and he has made a career out of doing absolutely nothing for 89mins and then up he pops to win the game. Look at his goal to game ratio wherever he has been; if he started every week he'd score 25+ goals for United." I reckon he'd score around 20, but even 40 goals wouldn't balance out the negative impact on United's general play. As for his eye for goal, don't forget the 2009-10 season, when he missed a number of absolute sitters.
85 min Dean Whitehead replaces Rory Delap for Stoke.
86 min Crouch misses another decent chance. Pennant drove a cross beyond the far post, where Crouch chested it down under pressure and then volleyed wide from six yards.
87 min "Whatever you say about Michael Owen," says Kulveer Taggar, "I'd rather have him in my team than Peter Crouch." Praise comes no higher.
90 min The indefatigable Evra plays a good one-two with Anderson but then runs into trouble on the edge of the box. Evra has been really good going forward today.
90+1 min There will be four minutes of added time. Neither team deserves to lose this game now.
90+2 min Giggs misses a glorious chance to win the match! With all the players drawn towards the near post, Nani floated a deep cross towards Giggs, in all sorts of space beyond the far post – but he sliced a sidefooted volley wide from just four yards. It wasn't an open goal, as Begovic had charged across his line, but it was still a great chance.
90+3 min Owen, running onto Anderson's clever scooped pass, is denied by Begovic, although he had been rightly given offside so it would not have counted.
Full time: Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United It's an honourable draw. Stoke get their first league point against Manchester United since Boxing Day 1984, while United will be fairly happy with a point given their injuries and the fact they had to play with ten men from the moment Michael Owen came onto the field after 11 minutes. Thanks for your emails; night.