There’s no rest for the wicked? No, this week there’s no rest for Stoke City. After a second straight win on Saturday, The Potters now get set for a quick turnaround as they host Rotherham United on Tuesday.
Thanks to a stretch taking their last seven of nine possible points, Stoke City go into Tuesday’s match at 13th on the table with 19 points. That’s good enough to now be just three points out of a top 6 spot on the table.
As for Stoke City’s opponent Rotherham, The Millers come into Tuesday’s clash at 16th on the table with 18 points. Rotherham have won one, drawn two, and lost two in their last five matches. Rotherham also walk into Bet365 Stadium on Tuesday with a poor away record, as the club has yet to win a match on the road this season.
Bottom line for The Potters, a win on Tuesday could launch them into a top spot on the table. A loss or a share of the points could keep them locked into a group of teams on the table including Rotherham; Where only three points separate the 12th spot on the table from 19th.
How will Stoke City line up against Rotherham?
Stoke City Predicted Formation: 3-5-2
Whether you want to call it a 3-5-2, a 3-4-1-2, or even a 3-4-3, Stoke City will most likely play in one or all of those variations on Tuesday.
After playing with a back four in a 4-3-3 formation against Sheffield United, Stoke City moved back to more of a back three against Preston North End their last time out. Against Rotherham, you can expect more of the same with a back three.
Lining up in a 3-5-2 as the club’s base formation, should give the club the tools it needs to attack a Rotherham side that rank near the bottom of the league (20th) in possession (44.1% average possession). A 3-5-2 as the team’s base should allow The Potters top transition when needed to a 5-3-2 defensively and a 3-4-1-2/3-4-3 in possession.
Starting XI Prediction: Bursik – Fox – Wilmot – Jagielka – Fosu – Sterling – Smallbone – Laurent – Baker – Gayle – Campbell
With two matches to come this week after playing on Saturday, there could be some rotation to Alex Neil’s starting XI at some point this week. But for Tuesday’s match we’ll say that Neil sticks with the same starting XI from this past Saturday.
Jordan Thompson who has been on the mend since suffering a concussion could feature at some point this week. But Josh Laurent has done well in a defensive midfield role as of late. The same goes for Manchester City loanee Liam Delap who has started on the bench in back to back matches. He could be rotated in for Tyrese Campbell or Dwight Gayle.
But because Neil seems to be gaining some cohesiveness with this current starting XI, we’ll say he keeps that momentum and gelling going with the same starting XI.
Three Keys for Stoke City vs. Rotherham:
Defending set pieces:
Rotherham this season have been very poor from open play with their attack. Per
, Rotherham have a league worst 6.76 xG (expected goals) from open play this season so far.However, on the flip side of their attack, Rotherham have been very good on set pieces. The Millers are third in the league (
) with 5.77 xG on set pieces.
Rotherham do most of their damage on set pieces with their attack. Stoke City will need to make sure they clear their lines inside the 18-yard box if/when Rotherham have set piece opportunities.
Finding Tariqe Fosu and Dujon Sterling out wide:
Rotherham are sixth in the Championship with 69 long balls per game against them. Meaning, The Millers will allow some long balls in exchange for defending shorter passes.
That’s where Tariqe Fosu and Dujon Sterling will be key for Stoke City. The Potters will need to launch long balls down the wings to find Sterling and Fosu in space. From there it’ll be on both men to find the correct cross or pass. But Fosu and Sterling should be available in space to play long at times.
Piggybacking off of the second key for Stoke City, once The Potters receive the ball out wide they’ll need to be accurate with their crosses. Stoke City overall have been good in recent weeks when putting crosses into the box.
But they’ll need to make sure they’re up to the task again when launching the ball into the box on Tuesday.
Stoke City vs. Rotherham United Prediction:
Based on how Rotherham have performed on the road this season, that’s enough in itself to predict Stoke City getting at least a point Tuesday. Then you add in Rotherham’s lack of creativity from open play in their attack, and it spells a recipe for all three points for Stoke City Tuesday if they can scratch across goals.
The Potters will need to be better than they were this past Saturday with their first touch on the ball. Which was something that almost cost the team a chance to score goals in attack.
But if they continue overall to replicate their inventiveness in attack and continue to have players such as Dwight Gayle and Tariqe Fosu imposing their will in possession, they should be able to find goals once again. That mixed with being defensively strong on set pieces from Rotherham should be enough for The Potters to continue their fantastic run of results.
Stoke City make it three straight wins, 2-0 Stoke City.