Mark Hughes’ men host Watford in their first Premier League game after suffering back-to-back defeats over the festive period.
Stoke City vs Watford:
Competition: Premier League
Date: Tuesday 2nd January 2017
KO Time: 19.45pm
Venue: bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
Latest betting odds (bet365):
Stoke City: 5/6
Our prediction: Stoke to win, and BTTS: 3/1
Long-shot: Xherdan Shaqiri to score anytime, and Stoke City to win 2-0 – 18/1
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Stoke head into tomorrow’s game sitting in 15th place in the Premier League after suffering back-to-back defeats over the Xmas period away at Liverpool and Chelsea knowing that a win could see The Potters go as high as tenth.
Hughes will also be boosted by the signing of Lee Grant, as it’s been reported that Derby County and Stoke have reached an agreement for the 33-year-old to move to Stoke-on-Trent permanently this month for a fee in the region of £1.2m.
Marko Arnautovic is expected to return for Stoke after serving his three-match ban, whilst Ramadan Sobhi and Wilfried Bony are more-than-likely set to miss out with ACON duty calling.
Stoke shipped four goals in a Premier League game for the EIGHTH time on Saturday worryingly for Hughes, and many Stoke fans now feel tomorrow is the right time to re-introduce 4-2-3-1.
The system would allow Hughes to play his mercurial front three of Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri to play behind Peter Crouch, who will be looking for successive goals for the first time in the Premier League since February 2015.
What the manager has said:
MH: “We’re giving goals up too readily. We’ll address that. A lot of the elements of our play, apart from that, are very good.
We had a good result against Watford not too long back. We just need to revisit our thoughts on that one and play as well as we know we can, but clearly take out the catastrophic errors.”
Predicted Stoke XI:
Grant; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Allen; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Crouch.
Match Facts (BBC Sport):
- All three Premier League meetings between these sides have been won by the away team.
- Watford are unbeaten on their last four league visits to Stoke (W3, D1).
- Stoke are without a victory in their last five league matches (D2, L3).
- However, they have only lost one of their previous seven home league games (W3, D3).
- The Potters have kept clean sheets in two of their last three Premier League matches at home.
- Peter Crouch will be looking to score in successive Premier League appearances for the first time since February 2015.
- Watford have won just one of their last seven league matches (D1, L5).
- They have only scored two goals in their last four league matches.
- Troy Deeney has scored two goals in his three previous Premier League games against the Potters.
Watford travel to Stoke-on-Trent tomorrow just two days after they were battered at Vicarage Road on Sunday afternoon by a ruthless Tottenham Hotspur.
The Hornets are seemingly on free-fall and have conceded 12 goals in their last three away PL games – something Mazzarri won’t want to add to tomorrow.
The Italian is odds-on to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked, and he will be desperate to stake a claim to save his job tomorrow, and a loss for his Welsh counterpart, Mark Hughes could also see him suffer the same fate.
Watford defender Miguel Britos returns after a one-match ban hoping to rectify his mistake in the previous meeting between the pair tomorrow. Britos was shown a red-card for crunching Xherdan Shaqiri late on.
Juan Zuniga and Nordin Amrabat are both ruled out with injury, and Mazzarri has bemoaned his injury list, claiming: “We have at least 4/5/6 first-team players currently injured.”
What the manager has said:
WM: “We have 50 per cent less time to prepare than Stoke. They had more rest than us.
“It will be very difficult but I guarantee we will do everything possible to defend the badge.”
Predicted Watford XI:
Gomes; Cathcart, Prodl, Kaboul; Kabasele, Capoue, Guedioura, Holebas; Doucoure, Deeney, Ighalo.