This weekend sees us back in the Bet365 Stadium hosting Liverpool, who sit in 3rd.
We’ve been in shocking form lately, three losses on the trot and one win in six. Tuesday night’s match against Burnley was another kick in the teeth for many. With fans now demanding three points this weekend, a fixture many wouldn’t expect a win from. We now lie in 12th place, one point from the ‘dependable’ 9th finish, Southampton now sit there with two games in hand. We’re twelve points from Mark Hughes’ target of 7th, following two dismal cup runs. Now we’re closer to the relegation zone, only eight points ahead of 18th placed Swansea. A lot of questions are being asked about Hughes he’s ability to take the club further.
Following our dismal 2-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium. We now head to Burnley to try and salvage points from Sean Dyche. We’ve had six defeats on the road in the last eight games, but Burnley haven’t won a game in the last seven league fixtures.
A win for Burnley will put them within a point of us, and Southampton will pass us into 9th. The Clarets have reported no further injuries ahead of the game, meaning Gudmundsson is still out, whilst, Defour could appear from the bench.
Dyche has said “My lads know they still have a challenge ahead. There are no done deals in the Premier League”. He knows that they’re not safe yet and still need to fight for every point to make sure they avoid relegation.
After the International Break, we are back in action against current Premier League Champions, Leicester City, at the King Power Stadium.
The previous fixture was on the 17th December 2016, and ended 2-2. A Bojan penalty and an Allen tap in put the Potters ahead. But Vardy’s earlier red card did not prevent the visitors from mounting a comeback and salvaging a point. Some argue that the dip in form during this game set the pre-tense for the next two games, which were defeats two Chelsea and Liverpool, with Stoke conceding eight goals during those two games.
Since that game, Leicester has go through a difficult period, on and off the pitch. Only picking up one win the following eight games. Then a decision that shocked the footballing world. Claudio was sacked as manager. Pick your side, do whatever. But since the change in management, the Foxes have pulled them out of the relegation zone by starting an unbeaten run under the leadership of Craig Shakespeare.
League leaders, Chelsea, will make their way north this weekend when they match up against Stoke City.
After a Kante strike to bring Manchester United crashing out of the FA Cup earlier in the week, Conte will be focusing all his attention to increasing the gap at the top of league, with the Semi-Final fixture against 2nd placed Tottenham being five weeks away.
Chelsea will be looking to set the top fours’ pace this weekend as they play before all league rivals, with 5th placed Arsenal holding the Saturday lunchtime slot.
This Wednesday we travel to the Etihad Stadium to face off against Manchester City. The match will begin at 8pm GMT.
Manchester City: Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan are still out. Vincent Kompany is doubtful for the game, his fitness will be assessed and a decision made just before the squad lists are submitted.
Stoke City: Xherdan Shaqiri is available for selection again, following five games where he’s been sidelined due to a calf injury. Bruno Martins Indi & Marko Arnautovic are dounbtful due to injuries picked up the last weekend’s clash against Middlesbrough. Wilfred Bony is also out due to being unable to play against his parent club.
This Saturday we welcome the Boro to the Bet365 Stadium. The last time the two sides met resulted in a 1-1 draw at Riverside, in the opening game of the season.
We are approaching this game off the back of a dire result against Spurs at White Hart Lane. This has prompted fans to call for Hughes out, with some demanding that his time at the Potters should come to an end either now or at the end of the season, amid claims that his style of play has reverted back to a Pulis era defensive approach. This has now become more evident as he approached the game with “Pulis Grafters” and had the team sitting back, this went against the last two fixtures at White Hart Lane, in which we attacked from the off and the games ended up with one win and a draw. So why the change of heart? For a further in-depth analysis of the game, go head to the blog page and read Tom Thrower’s article about the game.
This Sunday the Potters are travelling down south to match up against Spurs.
Saido Berhanio is expected to get his first start for Stoke this weekend at White Hart Lane after looking sharp in training during the mid-season training camp in Dubai.
The lads spent a week away in Dubai, due to a lack of FA Cup action. This is the third successive season in Dubai following Hughes’ takeover at Stoke. Each training has been followed by an increase in form. In 2014, the following twelve fixtures produced seven wins, two draws and three loses. 2015, the next sixteen games produced seven wins, four draws and five losses. Last season there was four wins, three draws and five losses. A mixed bag of results but the management are adamant that the trip only produces positive effects.
Well folks, I don’t know about you but I think this could be one of the most interesting matches we’ll see since the Sunderland game. The lads will also be looking for revenge following a dismal 4-1 defeat a Selhurst Park earlier in the season.
The Eagles currently find themselves in 19th, following a terrible run of form. Their season has been a shambles so far and even England’s, “best ever manager” with a 100%-win record, can’t turn things around. Many pundits are claiming the talented squad just don’t want to adapt to his all-or-nothing style of play.
We head to the Hawthorns this weekend to face 8th placed West Brom.
I spoke with @AlexRobNewton from @ReadWestBrom ahead of this weekend’s clash. Giving us some insight on what’s happening in the other half.
Firstly, it’s got to be the elephant in the room. Saido Berahino. What’s the general feeling amongst the Albion fans, and do they think that this was the ideal move for the fans?
Stoke will be hosting the Toffees at the bet365 Stadium this Wednesday. Everton are in fine form at the moment, having won five out of the last six league matches.
Everton have sealed the signatures of two players during the transfer window. 19-year-old Ademola Lookman has been brought in from Charlton Athletic for £7.5 million. The England U-19 international has scored 7 times for Charlton this season. But the signing that will most probably feature and cause us problems is 27-year-old Morgan Schneiderlin. Coming in from Manchester United for £24 million, he’s signing a four-and-a-half-year deal. He’s expressed excitement about being at Everton after having worked with Ronald Koeman 18 months ago at Southampton. A double swoop from Sunderland led to Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson joining them on permanent deals.