The league leaders, Watford are the visitors on Sunday in front of the Sky TV cameras and the buoyant Potters will be trying to replicate the form that gave them a convincing 3-0 win at Bramall Lane last Tuesday. But they’ll have to do it without Ryan Shawcross and John Eustace who are both suspending after picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season against Norwich last week.
The Hornets will be difficult opposition. They showed their class by coming back from 2-0 down at Colchester in midweek to finally win the game 3-2. But previous results showed though that the sting can be taken out of their tail after they had recorded only one win out of five since the end of October, losing to West Brom, Burnley, Barnsley and Bristol City.
Martin Hunter, one-time Stoke assistant manager and now Hornets’ coach, seems to be already compiling a list of excuses should the Hornets come crashing to earth at the Brit: ‘Their crowd is fairly ferocious and can create a lot of noise. It’s still quite a new stadium, is set high up and is open to the elements to a certain extent. A lot of decisions tend to normally go their way.’
Stoke City Team News:
No Shawcross and Eustace so Tony Pulis will have to rejig the midfield and defence. Only doubts are Stephen Wright (groin) and Andy Wilkinson (thigh) with Dominic Matteo still definitely out injured.
Player to watch: Richard Cresswell
The former Leeds and Preston striker seems to have hit form just as a goal blight has hit Ricardo Fuller.
Watford Team News:
Keeper, Mart Poom’s injury during their win at Colchester may still rule him out of the starting eleven. Midfielder Damien Francis will be in the squad after recovering from injury along with captain, Gavin Mahon.
Player to watch: Marlon King
King was on the score sheet in midweek to record his tenth goal of the season
Match Facts & Stats
Sat 15th December: Blackpool (away) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 22nd December: WBA (home) kick-off: 3pm
Boxing Day: Barnsley (away) kick-off: 3pm