This weekend sees Manchester United travel to the Potteries for the next fixture in the Premier League, the reverse game saw a form changing 1-1 draw.
José Mourinho’s side lie two points behind rivals, 5th placed, Manchester City. Following their 1-1 draw with Liverpool last week, Mourinho will be looking to take maximum points at the bet365 arena on Saturday.
The 1-1 draw was an occasion. The day we discovered what Grant could do, another Allen goal and the start of the end of Stoke’s early season slump. It also took a toll on Mourinho’s men, that started a drop in form and caused the Red Devils to lose 4-0 to Chelsea began a winless month.
On Saturday, we head north to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. This week we have also spoken to Rory Fallow from the Roker Report to hear what Black Cat fans think of the match.
Well, it’s been a turbulent few weeks. The festive period is always a tough time for Stoke. We somehow face the several top sides during the fixture heavy two weeks. Along with the loss to Wolves has seen a clear divide between fans. Many will be looking to this game before coming to a decision about the future of the man causing these divisions, Mark Hughes.
The reverse fixture on the 15th October saw Stoke beat Sunderland 2-0, through a Joe Allen double. It was the start of a good period of form for us, with us winning 4 of the following 6 games.
Currently, we are picking up 0.9 points away from home this season. Which all-in-all is not a bad ratio to have however the league average is 1.1. Whereas, Sunderland are averaging 1.1 points per home game. This, in theory, makes up for a great spectacle this weekend. Their last win was against Watford on 17th December, it ended 1-0. However, Sunderland are coming to the game after holding Liverpool to a 2-2 draw, which is a great feat for any team, given Liverpool’s performances this season. But with them in 18th place, they will be battling to grab some points against, and let’s be honest, an out of form Stoke team.
A quick prediction from me, is that Mark will field a side that will try to grind out a result. The whole debate of ‘Flair vs Grinders’ will be seen this weekend. I think Whelan and Afellay deserve a game. And with Walters out for at least another week, Crouch will probably start. But what about Bojan? I think Hughes’ intentions for Bojan will be present on Saturday. If he isn’t played, we’ll see him signing with Middlesbrough before we play Man Utd next week. For me though, it’ll be 2-1 to Sunderland.
Here is Rory Fallow from Roker Report answering a few questions about the game and Sunderland.
Sunderland currently have 1 win in 6 games, do you think Moyes can pull you out of this rut against Stoke?
That stat doesn’t particularly worry me ahead of the game because our home form lately has been rather impressive. In our last five we’ve beaten Leicester, Watford & Hull, earned a draw against Liverpool and our only defeat was a narrow loss to Chelsea. It’s a different story away from the Stadium of Light but our displays on Wearside are where most fans are taking solace.
I think it’s a game we can win if put in the same kind of performance we did against Liverpool and hopefully we’ll have Victor Anichebe back as well, to give us some extra presence up front.
What Stoke player or area would you think Moyes will be looking to exploit on Saturday?
Our main threat obviously comes from Jermain Defoe so he’ll be looking to use his pace to try and get the better of Ryan Shawcross, while Anichebe will hopefully be on hand to cause Glenn Johnson some problems, as the big man tends to start on the left. Adnan Januzaj is looking dangerous at the minute too, so Moyes will be hoping he can cause your defence some problems when running with the ball at his feet.
Look out for Patrick van Aanholt’s runs from deep as well. Whoever starts on the right wing for Stoke will need to work hard to nullify the flying full back.
Which Stoke player worries you the most, if any given our recent form?
At the moment, it’s probably Peter Crouch! Seeing him and Defoe grabbing goals over the festive period made me feel like I was back in 2008. There’s a lot of attacking flair that worries me in your side to be honest though, with the likes of Arnautovic & Shaqiri in your ranks. It would be typical if Bardsley scored with one of his occasional piledrivers from long range too!
Sunderland have averaged 1.1 points a game at home this season, is this worrying at all for Black Cat fans?
I don’t know if people are exactly panicking actually. I don’t mean that most fans particularly confident either, I’d say the majority do think we’ll go down, but most of us just feel pretty apathetic. We’ve been in this situation so often now, we’re kind of used to it. So while we’re well aware of the awfulness of our situation, we’re bizarrely calm about it all.
What are Sunderland fans hoping will happen during this transfer window? Any players you are hoping Moyes will bring in, or and players you hope to offload?
Martin Bain (our Chief Executive) gave an interview about three weeks ago which confirmed we don’t have any money to spend this month. We’re up to our limit on FFP so any purchases will have to be funded by high earners leaving. The likely candidates to leave are Lamine Kone & Wahbi Khazri, who could put themselves in the shop window quite nicely at the African Cup of Nations.
I doubt we’ll sell Kone, as he’s a first team player so even if we replaced him, we won’t have exactly strengthened. Khazri isn’t playing though so I can see him departing, which will allow Moyes can bring in (at least one of) a central midfielder, another target man type striker and a centre half. I’m not expecting us to be that busy though and wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t sign anyone. The most I can see us doing is bringing in a loan player from abroad, as we still have a vacant space on that front.
Is there anyone in your side who is going under the radar and Stoke should be worried about?
Our main threats are the obvious ones, really. Defoe is the top boy and Anichebe has been a surprising revelation in most games, so we really need him to recover from a hamstring strain in time for Saturday. After those, Patrick van Aanholt is our next best attacker but there has been some solidity emerging at the back from his defensive colleagues.
Stoke fans will probably remember how much of a nightmare Papy Djilobodji had at The Bet 365 Stadium, earlier this season and that was indicative of first 10 games. Since the team’s fortunes have changed though, Papy has looked twice the player and is becoming a very reliable defender. The best way to sum up his turn around is that us fans went from praying he’d get picked for Senegal for AFCON to being delighted when he wasn’t called up.
Most importantly, do you think Sunderland will repeat their recurring form this year and save yourselves right at the end or climb the table before it becomes a problem?
Probably not. If we had some money to spend this month and we didn’t have list of injuries as long as Peter Crouch’s legs, then I’d be pretty confident due to our form since November. The lack of options will catch up with us I think though, especially since most teams around us will strengthen this month. If we do turn it around, it will be down to the sheer resilience of the
players we do have at our disposal and if they keep going like they have over the last 10 games or so, there’s always an outside chance. This is certainly the least confident I’ve felt about our chances in recent years but Sunderland never do things easily, so who knows.
Written by Benito Fisher
With Southampton taking a trip to the bet365 on Wednesday we spoke to Chris from GeorgeWeahsCousin.com
Southampton seem to be having a really mixed bag of results this season any reason for this?
Yet another period of transition following yet another turbulent Summer. The biggest worry is goals, we sold our top scorers in the Summer and so far it’s hit us hard.
The Potters take a trip to the Capital and face off with the Gunners at the ever fruitless Emirates Stadium. This is the only ground that Stoke have never managed to claim a point at in the Premier League, with our last win away at Arsenal coming in 1981/82 season. However Mark Hughes will be hopeful as Stoke recently put to bed a much worse record at Old Trafford earlier this year.
Both teams enter the match in scintillating form. Stoke have only lost 1 game in 9 (W5, D3) and Arsenal are on a 13 game unbeaten run. The match promises to be an interesting clash as Stokies will be hoping Mark Hughes continues to use the 343 that has looked so effective over the past few weeks.
With Stoke coming up against Burnley tomorrow we sat down and had a chat with Tony from Up the Clarets.
Burnley have been on fire at home this season, much like ourselves back in our first few years, so I’m glad that this weekend’s match is at the bet365, what’s been the reason for such a sharp contrast in form home and away?
Stoke City arrive back at the Bet 365 Stadium on the back of six games unbeaten in the league. A late goal courtesy of the right foot of Bojan Krkic saved a draw against West Ham at the London Stadium last time out.
The Potters welcome Bournemouth to Staffordshire on Saturday, who have had a tough time of it in recent weeks. The cherries gave league strugglers Sunderland their first win of the season after a disappointing loss to Middlesbrough the week before.
Taking Stoke’s poor start to the season and Bournemouth’s recent troubles into consideration has meant that the two clubs find themselves in similar situations – 12th and 13th to be exact. A win for either side could rocket them into the top half of the table.
Stoke City head to the London Stadium in form that after the first few weeks of the season not many would have seen coming. Three wins on the bounce has shot the Potters up the table but the points have come from teams that have struggled themselves.
Stoke come up against West Ham who have also had a problematic start to the season. The Hammers are just above the relegation zone in 17th place, losing six of their first ten games.
Both sides have won three games apiece so far this term and will be desperate to get the three points. West Ham will be hoping to really kick start their tenure at the London Stadium whilst Stoke are searching for a fourth consecutive win. A feat that last occurred five years ago in December 2011.
With a trip to the Olympic Stadium next up for the Potters we sat down and had a chat with Sean Whetstone from West Ham Till I Die.
It’s been a tricky start to the season for West Ham, is there any specific problem you can put this down to?
Where do I start? We moved stadium and training ground over the summer which is a massive change. Both Arsenal and Man City struggled the season after their moves. The pitch is much bigger and much wider than we are used to. That excuse put to one side, we have struggled with some important injuries and we remain the only Premier League not to have have a recognised striker score this season. Three strikers have been injured, two loanee strikers have not made the grade needed for the Premier League and our youngster Ashley Fletcher from Manchester United has not been given a real chance. The team needs to get their confidence back and we will soon be back to our winning ways of last season.
Stoke will look to continue to rise from the dead as they look for their third consecutive Premier League win, with Swansea standing in their way on a dark and (probably not) stormy Halloween night in the Potteries. With eight point in the last four matches, Stoke have certainly turned a corner following a frightful start to the season and, with coming up against a team that have tallied two points in their last eight league games, you’d have thought that Stoke will look to creep their way back up the league. Although the team’s general performances have improved, Stoke’s resurgence has been thanks to some spellbinding individual performances, for example: Lee Grant against Manchester United, Joe Allen’s remarkable goal-scoring run and Xherdan Shaqiri’s enchanting performance against Hull. Swansea will be looking to end their nightmare start to the campaign having not won a game since the opening day of the season; this might be easier said than done, with Swansea winning just three of their ten Premier League meetings with Stoke.
Kick Off: Monday 31/10/16 @ 20:00 – Live on Sky Sports MNF
Match Odds (as of night before): H: 21/20 – D:13/5 – A: 14/5
Last Season: 2-2 (I Afellay, Bojan; G Sigurdsson, A Paloschi)
What a difference a month makes, only 31 days ago Hull knocked the Potters out of the EFL Cup with a 2-1 victory at the bet365, but now the tables have turned and Stoke must be considered favourites. Hull have lost all games since the EFL Cup game, whilst the Potters are unbeaten in the same period. The host have conceded a whopping 13 goals in their last 3 games, whilst Mark Hughes men have only conceded 2 in the same period. Joe Allen will be pivotal to a successful result for Stoke, and he we also be aiming to be the first Stoke player to score in 4 consecutive Premier League matches.
Hull will be eager to make up for their 6-1 thumping away at Bournemouth, but if Stoke manage to get an early goal, much as they did against Sunderland, then the flood gates could open. Past fixtures suggest this is unlikely as the past 4 clashes have only managed to create 4 goals. Sparky meanwhile has never lost a match to Hull as a manager, and he will have no desire to change that today.
The only worry for Stoke is the fitness of Phil Bardsley, who limped out of the Sunderland match with a hamstring injury. Sparky revealed that the Scot had not joined in training for the entire week, but he remained hopeful that Bardsley would be able to feature in today’s clash. Despite joining training this week the Hull match is coming too early for Jack Butland, who is only on light work, but Hughes is hopeful he will be available soon.
Hull first team captain Michael Dawson will be available for the first time this season. However, the Tigers have suffered serious injuries to both first choice full backs Andrew Robertson and Moses Odubajo, which means Josh Tymon could be given a first ever senior appearance, making him one of the lowest Premier League earners, around 150 pounds per week.
Predicted Line Up
Grant; Cameron, Shawcross, Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Allen; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Bony
Tom 0-3 Stoke, Bony x2, Allen
Ben 0-2 Stoke