There’s some good news and bad news for Potters’ fans. The bad news is Stoke City only took seven points out of a possible twenty one points in October (overall record of 2-1-4). The good news is, October is over! Stoke City have a chance to wipe their slate clean and focus on their final four matches before the World Cup break in November.
Stoke City will get that first chance on Wednesday as The Potters travel to Wigan Athletic. The Potters as of early Tuesday, sit at 19th on the table with 19 points. At 19 points, that puts Stoke City only two points above relegation positioned Coventry going into midweek
For Wigan Athletic, they’ve also struggled to find their footing recently. The Latics have lost five of their last six matches, which puts them at 20th on the table with 19 points. Stoke City only sit ahead of Wigan because of Stoke City’s better goal differential of -5, compared to -8.
How will Stoke City line up against Wigan Athletic?
Stoke City Predicted Formation: 3-4-2-1
Playing with mostly a back four recently, it would be easy to say Stoke City may again choose to line-up in some variation of a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. But considering Stoke’s issues in attack as of late (even with a high xG in some matches), it may be time to mix things up tactically.
With those possible changes, Neil could go back to more of a pure back three in possession. A back three in a 3-4-2-1 could allow Stoke City to play with width, while also having options to play through Wigan’s midfield. Plus, defensively a 3-4-2-1 allows Stoke City the flexibility out of possession to sink into a back five.
Starting XI Prediction: Bursik – Fosu – Fox – Flint – Wilmot – Clarke – Thompson – Baker – Gayle – Delap – Brown
Dujon Sterling missed this past weekend’s match against Norwich due to injury. If Sterling is healthy again, he’ll be reinserted back into the starting XI immediately. But because he wasn’t healthy enough on Saturday, we’ll say Harry Clarke gets another start.
Other changes to Stoke City’s starting lineup could come in the form of Jordan Thompson, Liam Delap, and Aden Flint. Thompson, who has been worked back very slowly due to a head injury, could finally make his way back into the club’s starting lineup soon for Josh Laurent.
Liam Delap who has seen more time on the bench in recent matches might also get a start once again. Delap on Saturday produced an assist off of the team’s bench late in the match and has produced in general when called upon as of late.
As for Aden Flint, the 6’6 Englishman hasn’t played since October 2nd. The time is now to be reinserted into the team’s backline. After three straight losses, Neil can afford to give Phil Jagielka, Morgan Fox, or even Ben Wilmot a breather. Flint being reinserted into the club’s lineup could also give Stoke some size on set pieces.
Stoke City vs. Wigan Athletic Prediction:
Wednesday’s clash between The Potters and Latics means a lot for both clubs. A loss for either team could mean an even bigger free fall. A win, however, would mean a little bit of breathing room from the bottom of the table.
So what should fans expect on Wednesday – a cagey affair or an open end-to-end match? Even though Wednesday might be cagey early, this will most likely be an open entertaining match due to Alex Neil’s mindset to play to win every match.
Now who this favors in this matchup is anyone’s guess due to both team’s inconsistencies as of late. Even both teams’ goals for and conceded goals numbers are similar this season. So far, Stoke City have scored 18 goals and have conceded 23 goals. Wigan have scored 17 goals and have conceded 25 goals.
Going deeper into xG/xGA (expected goals and expected goals against) analytical data, Stoke City have a 19.7 xG and a 21.1 xGA. On the other side, Wigan have a 18.9 xG and a 18.8 xGA.
Therefore there’s no real edge for either side on paper in this matchup, unless you want to say Wigan’s slightly better xGA gives them a defensive edge. Even with that better xGA, the eye test and actual goal data tells you that this should be a close match. It should be a close match in which the little mistakes can mean everything.
Stoke City will have to clean up their recent defensive mistakes they’ve made and continue to look for inventive ways in attack to consistently find good shot opportunities.
If Stoke City can be clinical around Wigan’s goal, a win could be in their cards. More defensive lapses could spell trouble the other way too though. Either way, we’ll say Stoke City grab a point with a 1-1 draw in a low scoring match.