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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers square off on Saturday afternoon with just two points separating the clubs in the Championship standings.

While the Potters are without a win in three matches, Blackburn's dramatic victory over Rotherham United in midweek was their first success in four attempts.


Match preview

Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray pictured on October 17, 2020© Reuters

Blackburn have endured somewhat of a mixed campaign, combining having the best attacking record in the division for much of the season with inconsistent results.

However, their 97th-minute winner against Rotherham in midweek has the potential to act as the catalyst for an improved run during the Christmas period as they bid to improve on 11th spot.

Adam Armstrong ended a three-game goalless streak in that contest, taking his tally to 15 for the campaign, but Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott is proving to be one of the signings of the summer.

The 17-year-old has contributed a goal or assist in four of his last five appearances, form which will not have gone unnoticed back at Anfield.

While Rovers are back to within four points of the playoffs, they can ill-afford another negative result against opponents who are rivals for a place in the top six.

With just three goals being scored in half a dozen fixtures, Stoke have done well to remain within a victory of reclaiming a place in the playoffs.

However, Michael O'Neill will be increasingly concerned that his side will struggle to cope with the long-term absence of Tyrese Campbell, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

The return of Steven Fletcher is a big plus for the Potters, but the veteran Scot, Sam Vokes, Jacob Brown and Lee Gregory have just six goals between them this season.

Regardless of the fact that they have kept five clean sheets in half a dozen outings, the Staffordshire outfit will not achieve promotion without considerable progress being made in the final third.

Stoke City Championship form: DWWLDD

Blackburn Rovers Championship form: WWDLLW


Team News

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Fletcher will almost certainly return to the Stoke attack in a move which could see Brown move out to the right flank.

Jordan Thompson should also earn a recall in midfield, but O'Neill may limit himself to just two changes due to the extra day of recovery.

Having made two substitute appearances over the past week, Stewart Downing could be handed his first start in a Blackburn shirt.

Amari'i Bell and Tyrhys Dolan are also options for Tony Mowbray as he contemplates introducing some fresh legs into his side.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bursik; Collins, Souttar, Chester, Fox; Thompson, Cousins; Brown, Powell, McClean; Fletcher

Blackburn Rovers possible starting lineup:
Kaminski; Nyambe, Lenihan, Ayala, Bell; Downing, Johnson, Rothwell; Elliott, Armstrong, Gallagher


SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 1-2 Blackburn Rovers

With Stoke struggling to score goals, it heaps more pressure on their backline to keep out Armstrong and co. Although this will almost certainly be a competitive encounter, we expect the the extra firepower in the Rovers attack to prove decisive.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals 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.Under 3.5:data


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Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured in October 2020
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CNorwich CityNorwich462910775363997
4Swansea CitySwansea4623111256391780
5Barnsley46239145850878
6Bournemouth4622111373462777
7Reading461913146254870
8Cardiff CityCardiff4618141466491768
9Queens Park RangersQPR461911165755268
10Middlesbrough461810185553264
11Millwall461517144752-562
12Luton TownLuton461711184152-1162
13Preston North EndPreston46187214956-761
14Stoke CityStoke461515165052-260
15Blackburn RoversBlackburn4615121965541157
16Coventry CityCoventry461413194961-1255
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest461216183745-852
18Birmingham CityBirmingham461313203761-2452
19Bristol City46156254668-2251
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield461213215071-2149
21Derby CountyDerby461111243658-2244
RWycombe WanderersWycombe461110253969-3043
RRotherham UnitedRotherham46119264460-1642
RSheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461211234061-2141

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