Stoke City travel to take on West Brom in what could prove to be an all too important mid-table clash in the third match of the season.
Though it is still too early in the season to really say which games will be must wins for Stoke, three points against the Baggies of West Brom could prove to be vital at the end of the season. Last season, 13th place Stoke were only three points behind eighth place Southhampton and one point behind tenth place West Brom. Three points here could be the difference in that mid-table pack come May.
West Brom have surprised some by sitting in fourth place in the league table, winning both of their first two matches as well as their league Cup match during the mid-week. That being said, those league wins came from Bournemouth and Burnley. Don’t get me wrong, both of those sides have proved to be a handful for expected top four teams this season but Stoke is definitely a better side than both of them.
Stoke are coming off of a big win against Arsenal on the weekend as well as a dominant performance against Rochdale on Wednesday. If they can replicate the defensive efforts of both those games, West Brom shouldn’t get too much going forward, especially if the Fletcher and Allen dominate the midfield the way they did against Arsenal.
We should expect to see Jesé working magic yet again up top but Shaqiri, even though he has recovered mostly this week, shouldn’t be expected to start as a better-safe-than-sorry move. He could make an appearance late in the match if Stoke need someone to help unlock the Baggies defense.
Kickoff against West Brom is 8:30am EST.
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