Stoke City head into Wednesday’s road match against Burnley on an extremely low note. The club is coming off of a bad 4-0 loss at home and now they have to take on Burnley at Turf Moor on a short week.
If there’s any bright points for Stoke City going into Wednesday’s match, it’s that historically the club has played Burnley close. In the two teams’ last five meetings, only one match was decided by more than one goal.
Going into Wednesday, Stoke City sit at 18th on the table with 12 points. That’s still just four points out of a top-ten spot on the table. On the other side of Wednesday’s match, Burnley sit at 5th on the table with 18 points.
How will Stoke City line up against Burnley?
Stoke City Predicted Formation
Against Watford, Stoke City lined up in a 3-1-4-2 at points of the game. Which is very similar to a 3-5-2 in possession or a 5-3-2 defensively that Neil has chosen for most of the team’s matches so far.
There won’t be much change to that moving forward. Especially considering Alex Neil has admitted himself on Tuesday that the team doesn’t fit right now into a 4-3-3 or a formation similar to that:
"“I’m gonna be really honest, there’s a lack of wide players isn’t there? So even if I had any appetite to go out with a 4-3-3, we don’t have any wide players really. We have Tariqe Fosu who’s arguably the one wide player we’ve got in the squad. Beyond that, they’re either wing-backs or full-backs.”"
With that said from Neil, this should be a game where Stoke City come out in a 3-5-2 while in possession, but mostly sink into a 5-3-2. A 5-3-2 formation should give Neil and Stoke City some extra defensive protection against Burnley’s possession hungry mindset.
Plus, when you consider the issues Stoke City just had defensively against Watford, a 5-3-2 checks a lot of boxes to help with some of these issues Stoke had. A 5-3-2 should allow The Potters’ wing-backs to close down space out wide with crosses and stay compact in the middle of the field to defend against Burnley’s shorter passes around the 18-yard box.
Starting XI Prediction: Bursik – Sterling – Fox – Flint – Wilmot – Fosu – Smallbone – Laurent – Baker – Campbell – Gayle
One of the biggest questions going into the Burnley match for Stoke City will be, is Josh Tymon ready to play again? If he is, it’ll be himself and Sterling as the team’s wing-backs against Burnley.
The other will be if Tymon sits out, does Neil continue to play Dujon Sterling on the left side and Fosu on the right side? Neil chose to play Sterling and Fosu on the opposite side of the formation they’ve normally been named to over their careers.
Additionally, if Jordan Thompson clears concussion protocol he will immediately go back into the team’s starting midfield.
Prediction for Stoke City vs. Burnley:
How anyone could feel great about Stoke City’s chances going into this match, would be head-scratching. Stoke City looked very poor on the ball for most of the match against Watford and very shaky defensively.
On top of that you add Stoke City’s poor mindset late in their last match and Burnley’s current form. All of this adds up to what could be a very unpleasant match for Stoke City fans and players/coaches.
Now, there’s always a chance that Stoke City clean up some of those mistakes and Burnley have a let-down game of their own. After all, the club took four of six possible points going into the last match. But it’s very hard to see that happening here on the road for Stoke City..
Burnley are first in the Championship with 66.1% on average per game – meaning they will be keen to work the ball around Wednesday and look to be patient in their attack. Adding to that point as well, Burnley is third best in the league with 18 goals for this season.
Things do not add up to predict a good outcome for Stoke City. What it does add up to is a match where Burnley control how it’s being played. That’ll be where Alex Neil and company will have to disrupt Burnley.
If Stoke City want to win this match or possibly even take a point from it, they will have to play compact defensively and then counter attack offensively. A QPR game plan for Stoke City might even do some good if Stoke’s wing-backs can push up the field and keep Burnley on their back-foot a bit more.
Even so, because of where Stoke City are coming out of their last match, this will be a tough road game to bounce back on.
Final Prediction: Burnley win 2-0 or 3-0.