MX23RW : Friday, September 24 13:31:39| >> :120:22405:22405:
Aug 29, 2020 at 3pm UK at Bet365 Stadium
StokeStoke City

Batth (72')
Stoke win 5-4 on penalties

Preview: Stoke City vs. Blackpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's EFL Cup first-round clash between Stoke City and Blackpool, including team news and predicted lineups.

Stoke City will be looking to book their spot in the second round of the EFL Cup when they welcome Blackpool to the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Potters are building towards the start of their 2020-21 Championship season against Millwall on September 12, while Blackpool will open their League One campaign away to Plymouth Argyle on the same day.

Match preview

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured on July 4, 2020© Reuters

Stoke ended their 2019-20 Championship season with a 4-1 victory at Nottingham Forest on July 22, which saw them finish the campaign with 56 points, leaving them down in 15th position in the table.

There is no question that the supporters will be looking for improvement next term, but the Potters face a tough assignment on the opening weekend of the new Championship season as they head to Millwall.

Michael O'Neill's side have played three pre-season matches to date, beating Linfield and losing to Burton Albion before thumping Shrewsbury Town 5-1 at the club's training ground.

Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel made his first start for Stoke last time out, and the 33-year-old could be a key player for the club in the coming season.

The team's main focus in 2020-21 will be the league, but a run in the EFL Cup would certainly be welcomed, and the hosts will fancy their chances of booking their spot in the second round at Blackpool's expense.

Liverpool coach Neil Critchley pictured on December 17, 2019© Reuters

Blackpool appointed former Liverpool Under-23 manager Neil Critchley as their new head coach at the start of March, but the 41-year-old only managed two games before the coronavirus outbreak led to the regular League One campaign being brought to a premature end.

As a result, the Seasiders have not been in competitive action since losing at home to Tranmere Rovers on March 10, but they have had plenty of pre-season games.

Indeed, the Tangerines have beaten Southport, Port Vale and Barrow in three of their five friendly matches, in addition to drawing with Everton and losing to Blackburn Rovers.

Critchley's side will face Barrow once again in the EFL Trophy on September 8 before starting their new League One campaign away to Plymouth Argyle on September 12.

Stoke City EFL Cup form: LWLWWL

Blackpool EFL Cup form: LWWWLL

Team News

Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel in action during the 2018 World Cup© Reuters

Stoke have signed four new players ahead of the 2020-21 campaign and all four could feature this weekend, with Morgan Fox, James Chester and Steven Fletcher potentially joining Mikel in the XI.

Tom Ince and Benik Afobe were both substitutes in the friendly win over Shrewsbury last time out but could come into the starting side for Saturday's competitive fixture.

As for Blackpool, Alex Fojticek could make his debut following his arrival from Manchester United, while Jordan Williams, Ethan Robson and Oliver Sarkic are also in line to make their first appearances for the club.

Liam Feeney is also likely to start, but there will be no Jay Spearing for the visitors, with the experienced midfielder leaving on a free transfer at the end of last season.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Butland; Collins, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Fox; Cousins, Mikel, Ince, Tymon; Afobe, Fletcher

Blackpool possible starting lineup:
Sims; Howe, Husband, Nottingham, Thorniley; Virtue, Devitt, Shaw, Robson; Feeney, Sarkic

SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 2-0 Blackpool

Blackpool are certainly capable of making it a difficult afternoon for Stoke, but we are finding it difficult to back against the home side, who have a lot of quality in the final third of the field. Afobe could join Fletcher as part of a front two this weekend, and the Potters should have too much for their opponents.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:curl

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General view of Stoke City's bet365 Stadium taken March 2018
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