Stoke City vs Sheffield Wednesday starting XI and prediction
Going into Tuesday evening, Stoke will once again be relatively healthy. The obvious outlier to that would be the recently injured Nathan Collins who was stretchered off late in Saturday’s match against Norwich. In addition to Collins, goalkeeper Adam Davies is still out and Rhys Norrington-Davies will also be serving his last of a three match ban.
How will Michael O’Neill change the squad?
Stoke have depth so it will be interesting to see how much O’Neill will keep from Saturday’s squad. You’d have to think that (if fit) Fletcher, Powell, Souttar, Chester, Fox, and Smith will be in the eleven, but outside of that it’s not clear who will be in on Tuesday.
Formation – 4-2-3-1
Stoke could benefit from dropping a central midfielder and allowing another winger to get a start. Though McClean and Matondo have struggled, Stoke look better with Powell in a number ten role and not out wide. This would also let Michael O’Neill give a rest to one of the struggling midfielders.
Gunn is slated to make another start for the Potters. Though he gave up 4 against Norwich, you’d be wrong to blame him for any.
Smith – Souttar – Chester – Fox
Smith comes in for the injured Collins, the rest stays the same. Defensive unit is weaker without Collins, but Smith will be a clear replacement.
Mikel – Allen
Clarke – Powell – McClean
Midfield is the clearest area that can be improved for Stoke. Letting Powell operate behind Fletcher and in-between wingers should get him more touches and allow him to distribute. This should be move number one.
Sitting deep in the midfield will likely be Mikel and Allen, but Thompson and Cousins are options that should be explored. They have better movement than Mikel and Allen, and Thompson has shown an ability to link up with attacking players with long balls forward.
Stoke fans were also left to question why Jack Clarke was subbed off after the first half on Saturday. He’s been a massive upgrade since arriving, so Stoke supporters should hope to see him again on Tuesday. Another option would be to have both Matondo and Clarke starting with McClean on the bench. This is probably unlikely, but it would be an option that would give a clear squad shake-up.
Stoke need Fletcher to be their main scoring option. Tuesday will be another chance for the veteran striker to make an impact. If he is not fit enough, expect a start for Jacob Brown. Though Brown has the work rate, he just has not shown the ability to finish consistently at the Championship level.