With FA Cup matches in full swing this weekend for English teams, Stoke City will have a brief respite from Championship action this weekend. Instead, The Potters will take on Hartlepool on Sunday in the aforementioned FA Cup tournament — Sunday’s match against Hartlepool will mark the 3rd round of the tournament for Stoke City.
Prior to Sunday’s match, the last time Stoke City took on Hartlepool was in a 2008-2009 FA Cup match as well — Hartlepool advanced in that matchup after beating The Potters 2-0. If Stoke City are able to move on in the FA Cup on Sunday, it’ll be the first time since 1953-1954 that the club beat Hartlepool in a FA Cup match.
Stoke City Opportunity in FA Cup
Stoke City up to this point this season have been disappointing to say the least in the Championship. As going into next Saturday’s match against Sheffield United, The Potters will be sitting at 18th in the Championship with 30 points.
The good news for Stoke City though, is that the FA Cup of course is a separate competition from the Championship. So in a way, the slate is wiped clean for Stoke City going into this weekend and any future FA Cup matches this season.
Meaning, Alex Neil and The Potters should hopefully be looking to capitalize on a big opportunity this weekend. That opportunity being the right to move on to the fourth round of the FA Cup. Plus, Stoke City will also have another opportunity this weekend to try to buck some of their recent losing trends against a club in a lower league.
Stoke City vs. Hartlepool Prediction
Hartlepool currently sit at 22nd on the League Two table, which is a relegation position. Now that doesn’t mean this will be easy sledding for Stoke City necessarily. After all, The Potters form as of late and most of the season has been an inconsistent one.
But what it should represent is an opportunity for Stoke City to be able to control the game possession wise. There’s no reason on Sunday why Stoke City shouldn’t control at least 60% of the possession in the match — This should allow Stoke City to be able to work on some elements of their attack and to test their defense in-terms of counterattacks.
Again, that doesn’t always equal an easy match. But it should equal Stoke City getting a bigger chunk of the ball on Sunday and the opportunity to test out their basic principles in attack. And also possibly try a few new things in attack as well.
Overall, Stoke City won’t have any excuses to play poorly on Sunday. From the kick-off to the final whistle, this is Stoke City’s match to lose. And this is also Stoke City’s match to lose control of.
Even with their inconsistent play this season in the Championship, The Potters should still possess the better talent of the two squads — This should be a Stoke City victory coming out of Sunday and into next week.
Final Prediction: Stoke City advance with a 3-1 victory.