Stoke City vs Burnley
Venue: Bet365 Stadium
Referee: Mike Dean
Stoke and Burnley square up with completely different objectives for the remainder of the season at the Bet365 Stadium, though both are certainly in need of three points for their respective ambitions in the remainder of the 2017/18 Premier League campaign.
Stoke head into the clash in hope of keeping their survival bid alive, while the away side continue to mount an unlikely push for a Europa League football in the 2018/19 season.
Sitting five points away from safety, it’s vital that Stoke register a win which they haven’t done in their last ten games. Lambert has struggled to make an impact since his arrival with his only win coming against Huddersfield back in January.
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Burnley will see this as an opportunity to keep pushing for a Europa League place, currently only two points behind Arsenal in sixth. They can feel confident knowing they face a Stoke side who have conceded 64 goals this season, the most in the Premier League, as well as the Potters having a publicised lack of quality in front of goal.
Burnley have been solid and hard to break down with most of their victories being by a one goal margin. Despite their loss mid-week against Chelsea, the Burnley squad will approach the game like they have any other this season, with the minimum requirement of giving their all on the pitch, an essential for Sean Dyche.
Lambert believes three wins from the last four games will be enough to keep Stoke in the Premier League but being winless in his 10 last games, the current longest winless streak in the Premier League, makes this a tougher objective than it seems.
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Stoke will be without left-back Kostas Stafylidis due to a fractured rib and winger Choupo-Moting still recovering from a groin problem. Charlie Adam will be available after serving his three match ban and Glen Johnson may be an option after returning to training on Friday.
Burnley will be without Scott Arfield because of a calf problem and Jon Walters, Steven Defour and Robbie Brady are all recovering from various knee injuries. Ben Mee is still recovering from a shin injury whilst it is touch and go with centre-half James Tarkowski who suffered a knock on Thursday in their defeat to Chelsea.
Burnley will be looking to do the double over Stoke, something that hasn’t been achieved since the 2002/03 season in the Championship, however the Potters have won two of the last three meetings at home against Burnley. In the face of relegation, it will be unsettling to know that Stoke have won only one of the last fifteen games in April, drawing five and losing nine.
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England hopeful Ashley Barnes will be looking to add to his goal tally of nine goals, as well as Nick Pope trying to prevent Stoke from scoring in the push to be England’s first choice goalkeeper. Chris Wood is Burnley’s leading away goal scorer with five goals, the most any Burnley player has scored in a single Premier League season.
For Stoke it’s likely Mame Biram Doiuf will be their attacking option despite missing numerous opportunities in recent games which a one-legged blind man could have scored. Jack Butland will be looking to prove he is better than his national counterpart for the second time this week after the Monday night draw to West Ham and Joe Hart.
Considering there are always big shocks in the survival race Stoke will need nothing less than three points to keep their hopes alive and produce that shock. While they enter the game in a poor run of form and arguably off the back of ‘unlucky’ performances, they will have to create their own luck to turn their season around.
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A co-ordinated and capable Burnley side will give maximum effort and look to add to the Potters’ misery as well as their European bid on Sunday afternoon. Expect a fierce and fiery contest lacking goals, possibly only needing one goal to decide the game.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Stoke: Butland, Johnson, Martins-Indi, Shawcross, Pieters, Allen, Bauer, Ndiaye, Shaqiri, Sobhi, Diouf
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward; Lennon, Westwood, Cork, Gudmunsson; Wood, Barnes.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Burnley
Written by Andy Ridgway.
Project Engineer at Rolls Royce. Unfortunately, born a Stoke City fan but wouldn’t have it any other way.