Stoke City vs Wycombe preview
After three straight losses, Stoke City are now ten points out of a playoff spot with twelve matches left in the season. While Stoke were beat soundly by Barnsley a few matches ago, getting no points from Brentford and Swansea should be infuriating for fans especially since they were leading in both matches. The unbelievable late penalty given against Swansea has garnered a ton of attention, and for good reason, but Stoke will look to rebound on Saturday to salvage any hope in obtaining a playoff spot.
Stoke need three points against bottom of the table Wycombe, that much is pretty clear. This will be a statement match for Michael O’Neill and Stoke City in many ways. Though playing close matches over the last few weeks they have not had the necessary results. Saturday is a chance to change that.
Wycombe has only scored 2 goals in their last five matches and at this point in the season every match for Wycombe is crucial just to stay in the Championship. Wycombe are chasing Birmingham who are in twenty-first place. They need wins and they need them fast. Given the position of both clubs, both will be going for three points so expect an exciting match with plenty of attacking strategies.
In their early December matchup, Stoke cruised to a decisive victory on a 72′ goal from Nick Powell. Though the goal came midway through the second-half, Stoke lead the match in almost every stat.
Stoke City: W-W-L-L-L (Goal Differential: even)
Wycombe: L-D-W-L-L (Goal Differential: -4)
Three storylines to follow for Stoke City
1- Will Michael O’Neill start Jack Clarke?
It was obvious that Clarke gave Stoke an added attacking element in the second half against Swansea on Wednesday. It’s been unclear why Jacob Brown continues to see starts though not producing outside of the easy goal against Barnsley. Clarke is the better option as he provides creativity and a scoring threat. He should be a starter. Also, if Fletcher has to be replaced, Brown would be an obvious substitute,
2 – Can we break up Mikel and Allen
This has been a cry from fans for a while now, but MON seems pretty set in his ways at this point. If Allen and Mikel are healthy and don’t need to be rested we should expect to see them. Even though the pair deliver a true veteran presence, they lack pace and haven’t shown chemistry. Having Cousins and Thomson in the mix would be welcomed.
3 – Is Angus Gunn Stoke’s keeper going forward?
Gunn has started since late January for Stoke even though Adam Davies has recently been fit. Gunn had probably his best recent match against Swansea, but Stoke fans can probably still remember just how good Davies has been for the club. Signing Gunn to a longer term loan deal signals how much MON thinks of the player, but Gunn has still not shown the same ability or run of form that Davies has had with the club.