Man United's turn to face Delap delivery

Champions Manchester United will be the latest team to try to cope with Stoke City's long-throw specialist Rory Delap when they host the Premier League newcomers on Saturday.

United, aiming to get their title defence back on track after last week's 2-1 loss at Arsenal, face a very different threat in Delap whose delivery has caused penalty box mayhem all season, not least against Arsene Wenger's men at the start of the month.

Stoke have taken 10 points from a possible 15, including wins over Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, to climb out of the relegation places to 12th and captain Andy Griffin has defended their reliance on the Ireland midfielder's deadly set pieces.

"As a club we have to be selfish, we want to survive in the Premier League, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks," Griffin, who won just one top-flight game as a Derby County player last season, told British media.

"Our way of football has got us results, we're not in this league to try and please other people, it's about Stoke staying in this league.

"We feel if we can beat Arsenal then surely on our day if things go well we can do the same against United."

United, who fell two points behind Arsenal to fourth and are a further six behind pace-setters Chelsea and Liverpool with a game in hand, suffered a further blow when England midfielder Owen Hargreaves was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Hargreaves, who has started only twice this term and has been troubled by serious knee problems since arriving from Bayern Munich last year, joins fellow midfielder Paul Scholes on the sidelines.


Leaders Chelsea continue their collective return to full fitness by welcoming Didier Drogba back for the trip to bottom-placed West Bromwich Albion.

The Ivory Coast captain, who scored in the surprise League Cup defeat to Burnley on Wednesday, must displace or work alongside the Premier League's top scorer Nicolas Anelka if he is to make only his second league start of the campaign.

Liverpool, behind Luis Felipe Scolari's side on goal difference, were also boosted by the return of their top striker on Wednesday when Fernando Torres played 56 minutes of the club's second loss at Tottenham in two weeks.

The Spain striker is likely to start again in Saturday's early game at Bolton Wanderers who have climbed from last to 11th thanks to two successive wins.

Arsene Wenger, who watched his Arsenal youngsters sparkle again in the League Cup in midweek, will expect his more experienced men to assert their superiority when they host Aston Villa, one point behind United in fifth.

Tottenham Hotspur's revival under new boss Harry Redknapp faces a test close to home at Fulham while on Sunday early high flyers Hull will be looking for a first point since October when they host out-of-form Manchester City.