Stoke City vs Watford Preview and Prediction
Stoke City face off against Watford on Wednesday as they enter a tough 4 match stretch against clubs that all sit in the top 12 of the table – Watford, Redding, Norwich, and Huddersfield.
On paper, Watford probably have the best squad in the Championship. They are loaded with talent, but this has not quite translated to Championship results as the Hornets currently sit in 6th place, are tied with Stoke in points (15), and are only 2 ahead of the Potters on goal differential. Their transition to the Championship has not gone particularly well as morale has been in question, and a number of players have left or are hoping to leave in the upcoming transfer window.
In the last 5 Championship matches, Stoke would seem to have a slight edge in both points earned and recent form. Watford are coming off a disappointing match against Barnsley where they dominated possession, but failed to register a shot on goal. Stoke rebounded this past Saturday with a win against Rotherham where they dictated much of play and did not give up a single shot on goal.
Some players to look out for on Watford would include João Pedro and Ismailia Sarr. With Troy Deeney probably not fit enough for Wednesday’s match, these two would be the most likely scoring threats for the Hornets. For Stoke, it’s no secret that they are most dangerous with Tyrese Campbell and Steven Fletcher in the lineup together. Since both were featured heavily on Saturday, I would expect that one, if not both, are not featured Wednesday since Stoke will have to square off against first place Reading on Saturday. I would not be surprised to see some combination of Sam Vokes, Jacob Brown, and Lee Gregory in for the Potters. Bottom line, Stoke will probably not be featuring a particularly dangerous scoring lineup.
It’s tough going against the Potters, but I’m thinking that Angus Gunn will be tested one too many times, and that Stoke will also fail to create with a mid-week squad. A lot depends on Michael O’Neil’s choices, but he has shown a preference for rotating mid-week. Stoke’s options for scoring outside of Powell/Fletcher/Campbell have not provided a spark so far, and I haven’t seen anything yet this season to make me think they will do anything different, especially against a club that has only conceded 5 times this season.