Stoke City v Middlesbrough: The Breakdown build-up
Middlesbrough hit the road again this weekend when they travel to take on Stoke City.
Two wins on the bounce for Chris Wilder’s side has led the team to ninth in the table and just five points behind the Potters who sit in sixth position.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s clash at the Bet 365 Stadium.
Form (Last six)
Stoke City: W-W-W-L-L-W
Blackpool 0-1 Stoke City
Luton Town 0-1 Stoke City
Stoke City 2-0 Peterborough United
Bristol City 1-0 Stoke City
Stoke City 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
QPR 0-2 Stoke City
Luton Town 3-1 Middlesbrough
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough 1-1 Millwall
Middlesbrough 1-2 Preston North End
Huddersfield Town 1-2 Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough 1-0 Swansea City
Head-to-Head (Last six)
Stoke 0-0 Middlesbrough - November 3, 2018
Middlesbrough 1-0 Stoke - April 19, 2019
Middlesbrough 2-1 Stoke - December 20, 2019
Stoke 0-2 Middlesbrough - June 27, 2020
Stoke 1-0 Middlesbrough - December 5, 2020
Middlesbrough 3-0 Stoke - March 13, 2021
Results (W-D-L): 10-4-7
Goal Difference: +5
Results (W-D-L): 8-5-8
Goal Difference: +1
The Potters will be without Australian powerhouse and star centre-back Harry Souttar who suffered what seems to be a serious knee injury during a World Cup Qualifier.
In addition to this, joint top scorer and leading shot taker (with 2.3 p/90) Nick Powell is also out of action for this clash.
It doesn’t end there though as starting goalkeeper Joe Bursik has been ruled out until New Year with a torn quad muscle.
Add on top of this the injury to Jordan Thompson and the possible absence of Romaine Sawyers who limped off against QPR and it paints a bleak picture for Michael O’Neill’s side.
For Boro there’s been little change.
Darnell Fisher and Sammy Ameobi are still sidelined for the foreseeable future; Lee Peltier is expected to be out for another couple of weeks after suffering a hamstring problem against Preston.
Marcus Browne is also still unavailable following a long-term injury layoff, however, he is back in training and could be back by the end of the month. Grant Hall is still a doubt with a hamstring issue.
On a positive note though, Dael Fry came on for a few minutes against Swansea and so may be available for selection if needs be.
Martin Payero was also fit enough to make the bench against the Swans and so we may see him in action on Saturday.
Stoke City (3-5-2): GK: Davies DEF: Wilmot, Batth, Fox MID: Smith, Clucas, Allen, Vrancic, Tymon ATT: Fletcher, Campbell
Middlesbrough (3-5-2): GK: Daniels DEF: Dijksteel, Bamba, McNair MID: Jones, Crooks, Howson, Tavernier, Bola ATT: Watmore, Sporar
Michael O’Neill’s side are bottom of the league for dribbles per game which suggests that they tend to focus on disciplined teamwork instead of moments of individual quality that the likes of Boro’s Isaiah Jones can provide.
This could be something that Wilder’s side will like as the structure implemented in recent weeks has been excellent.
Furthermore, they average just 3.8 shots from outside the box per game at home this season which implies a more patient attacking approach that looks to find openings in the box instead of forcing the issue and taking it on early.
Once again, if this is the way they play on Saturday I believe Boro’s recent defensive structure could limit them going forward.
Nevertheless, Stoke are a dangerous outfit with the likes of 21 year old Tyrese Campbell in the forward areas a particular threat (contributing 11 goals in 13 starts last season) and thus the home fans will likely be looking to see goals from the home side.
In addition to this, O’Neill’s men have conceded just two goals in their previous 5 matches.
As previously touched on in the head-to-head section,
Boro have had the better of this fixture in recent times and so looking at that you’d be inclined to predict a win for the away side.
Unfortunately for Middlesbrough, they have lost more than they have won on the road thus far, with Stoke’s home form being the inverse.
However, under Wilder’s stewardship, Boro’s away record stands at 1 win from 1; something he’ll be hoping to keep up on this trip to the Bet 365 stadium.
Furthermore, the Potter’s last 4 home games have yielded just 4 points, Boro will be looking to make it 4 from 5 on Saturday.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Middlesbrough
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