Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Stoke preview.

Quick pre-Stoke City predictions with no hyperlinks (no time).

v Stoke City.


 Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-4-1-1:


___________________De Bruyne__________________




Subs: Outfield player with gloves on, Sagna, Kolarov, Delph, Fernandinho, Nolito, Iheanacho.

I can’t see too many changes here…

Willy likely to continue in net.

Take your pick at left-back…I’m going for Gael to be selected for this game. One of only three possible changes as I see it, which is Pablo in for Bacary on the right of defence. John to be re-joined by Nicholas in-between those two after the Argentine was dropped to the bench for the Sunderland victory (possibly to ensure he was ready for any rough & ready Stoke City bombardment, counter attacks this evening).

It’s almost a ‘copy & paste’ at the moment from this point on with the same-predicted attacking 6. It’s an important home fixture [to get 3 points from] let’s not forget and so I see Yaya; [the simply brilliant] David, [getting better all the time] Leroy, Raheem & Sergio being asked to ‘go again’…and being joined by rested-at-the-weekend, Kevin. However, with no injuries - but the manager admitting that there is some tiredness in the squad - expect early subs to key players IF the game allows.

Those possible replacement predictions are ‘Footwork Freddie’ as back-up to Willy and defensive cover coming from Aleks & Bacary. Fabian & Fernandinho the central midfield replacement options (and both likely to see action); the more attacking choices form the side likely to come from Nolito & Kelechi for this one.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (not risked / just back in full training), Fernando (not selected), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for rest of season), Jesus Navas (not selected) & Gabriel Jesus (injured – possibly for the rest of the season).

Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?

That looks fine.

Result? These are a hardworking team who do have players who can sting you if you’re not careful and who often don’t get the full credit they often deserve. They sit a respectable 9th too and are sure to bring a large & sometimes-noisy following.

The ‘last 10’ may show that they’ve lost 4 of those but their last 8 games reads a better-sounding, WWDDLWLW; where they’ve scored 10 and conceded 8. They don’t score LOADS but they’re a mean outfit at the back with an industrious midfield department.

This will be a hard-graft game sure to sap our energies further and just like Sunderland; will have to be ‘on it’ and earn any victory. It might be as close as the weekend scoreline and we might even concede this time…but I’m going for our devastating attack to continue tonight and give us another much-needed victory to 'keep in touch(ish)' with Chelsea and help to secure a top-4 (preferably 3) finish to the season.

Expected weather conditions during the game: Quiet. Largely overcast but dry; not much of a breeze and at 8C not even that cold for the back-end of winter.

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