Ahead of Stoke City vs Derby County, its time to look at the key battles that will define what is a crucial match for Stoke City.
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Ryan Woods vs Mason Mount
With Mason Mount playing such a key role for Derby County, it is highly likely that Gary Rowett will get a player to man-mark Mount, similar to when Manchester United vs Chelsea last season, they had Ander Herrera follow Eden Hazard at all times, Ryan Woods should be the candidate for the man-marking role, with Woods being the defensive midfielder in Rowett’s 4-1-4-1 formation, it seems clear that he will be given the role. If Woods can get on top of Mount, the chances of Stoke City will increase dramatically if he can’t I only see bad things happening to Stoke City.
Saido Berahino vs Derby County defence
Saido Berahino looked good last time out bagging a goal and looked to stretch the QPR defence whenever possible with some intelligent runs in behind. Defence might not be Derby County’s strongest area but they still have conceded fewer goals than Stoke City, Berahino should have the pace to burn Richard Keogh but the experienced Irishman has enough experience in him to remain one step forward of most strikers while Fikayo Timori has looked good for Derby County this season but is still a relatively inexperienced player. Goals win games and that is why Berahino needs to score against Derby County
Jack Butland vs Derby County attack
Attacking play is clearly this Derby side’s forte and Jack Butland will need to be on alert. With Derby County possessing many players that can score goals, Butland will have a busy night, but Jack is one of the best in the business.