The first top flight league match between the two sides for nearly 40 years will have more than just a touch of nostalgia as the late, great Sir Stanley Matthews shared his footballing career between both clubs. No doubt he’d have been thrilled to see both his old teams back in the big time.
The Seasiders have been this season’s surprise package. Nailed on certainties for instant relegation back at the start of August, they’ve confounded the pundits in much the same way that the Potters and Hull City did two seasons ago. They now sit just two points behind Stoke and have a game in hand after their match against Man United fell foul of the weather last weekend.
Tony Pulis is, naturally, forever the pessimist but he knows that his mate, Ian Holloway, has his team wound up tighter than a cup final before every game. He told the official site: ‘Make no mistake, this is going to be one of the biggest tests that we’ve faced since we came up into the Premier League.
‘That’s a challenge we face on and off the pitch. Blackpool will come here with no fears whatsoever, determined to have another great day out.
‘They’re the underdogs, so there will be great expectation among our supporters, whereas their fans will come here to enjoy themselves.’
Stoke City Team News:
There’s good news from the dressing room with Jermaine Pennant and Andy Wilkinson reckoned to both be fit again, so TP has a full squad to pick from – with the exception of Mamady Sidibe who’s hoping for a return in the new year.
Player to watch: Andy Wilkinson
Hopefully he’ll play and allow the Potters to return to what is arguably our best back row: Collins, Huth, Shawcross and Wilko.
Blackpool Team News:
Blackpool midfielder, Ludovic Sylvestre could return after suffering a hamstring strain. But one-time Stoke target and ‘Pool’s joint top scorer, Marlon Harewood is out with a similar injury.
Player to watch: Luke Varney
The former Crewe player has had an indifferent career since leaving the Alex, but seems to have found the sea air to his liking since arriving at Bloomfield Road on loan from Derby at the start of the season. He’s now got five goals in eleven starts, including a humdinger against Wolves last month.
Match Facts & Stats
Anthony Taylor. This season’s new boy to the Premier League and the first time he’s officiated at a Stoke match. Well he can’t be any worse than the rest, can he?
Saturday 18th Dec: Arsenal (away) kick-off: 3pm