The Potters travel to take on the Black Cats on Wearside as they look again to break their away duck this season. Stoke are without an away win and with two new strikers, a much-needed winger and a new defender the scene may be set for the Potters to bring home the vital three points. It’s by no means an easy game, but the Potters have definitely strengthened up front with Beattie and Etherington already teaming up well which may give them the edge.
The award for the ‘most obvious tactic of the week’ goes to the Black Cats’ boss, Ricky Sbragia. He told the pre match press conference this week: ‘We’ve got to try to play as much football in their half, that’s the most important part of it.’
We thought all teams tried to do that?
Sunderland Team News:
Former Potter, Kenwyne Jones should be fit after recovering from a knee injury. New boys Calum Davenport and Tal Ben Haim could make debuts with Anton Ferdinand (hip) struggling and Paul McShane and Nyron Nosworthy out.
Player to watch: Djibril Cisse
Cisse, who Tony Pulis revealed nearly ended up at the Brit last summer, should start after recovering from an ankle injury. He’s got ten goals to his name and is always a threat.
Stoke City Team News:
Rory Delap is suspended after his red last weekend and Pulis will have to decide whether to give the vacant slot to Liam Lawrence on his return to his old club or give another run-out to Richard Cresswell who is seen as too lightweight by some fans. Another difficult decision is whether to start with new signing, Henri Camara or Ricardo Fuller alongside James Beattie up front. At the back the second new signing of the week, Stephen Kelly will be hoping for an early start which may see Andy Wilkinson make way. Which ever way it goes, Tony Pulis will be looking for a solid rather than a gung-ho performance.
Player to watch: James Beattie
Whilst Fuller may have some competition for the front row with the arrival of Camara, there’s no doubt that Beattie will be first choice. Only three games in since arriving from the Blades, he’s already got an assist with Delap’s goal at Chelsea and then got himself on the score sheet against Spurs and Man City to add to the twelve goals he’s already got this season in the Championship.
Match Facts & Stats
The dreaded Rob Styles is in the middle for the third time this season
Sat 21st Feb: Portsmouth (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sun 1st March: Aston Villa (away) kick-off: 3pm
Wed 4th March: Bolton (home) kick-off: 7.45pm