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Dec 5, 2020 at 3pm UK at Bet365 Stadium
StokeStoke City
1-0
MiddlesbroughMiddlesbrough
Collins (19')
Campbell (69'), Brown (79')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Fry (26'), Saville (70'), Bola (90+5')

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

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

Stoke City welcome Middlesbrough to the Bet365 stadium on Saturday as they go in pursuit of back-to-back wins having edged out Wycombe Wanderers in midweek.

Duncan Watmore was at the double on Wednesday night as Middlesbrough secured a 2-1 win over a strong Swansea City at the Riverside, leaving them four points off the Championship's summit.

A win for Boro will see them leapfrog Stoke in what is becoming an increasingly tight top half, with only eight points separating the 12 sides.


Match preview

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

A Nick Powell header was enough for Stoke to take away all three points in midweek as they overcame a blunt Wycombe Wanderers side, struggling at the bottom of the Championship.

The win leaves the Potters eighth in the table and they will be keen to kick-on in the hope of mounting a robust promotion challenge.

A win on Saturday will require Stoke to put to bed a poor recent record against Boro, though.

City have lost their last three league matches against Middlesbrough, their worst such losing run against them since a run of three between 1938 and 1946.

The Bet365 has seen many a goal so far this season with 26 flying in at either end - more than any other ground in the competition.

Boro boss Neil Warnock on September 11, 2020© Reuters

Former Sunderland man Watmore only signed for Boro three weeks ago but has seemingly made a strong first impression on Neil Warnock judging by the glowing comments that followed the home win against Swansea.

His first goals for the club were enough to see off the Swans, with Boro now sitting top of the home form table with 17 points from their eight games at the Riverside.

Boro's stern defence has been their standout strength so far this campaign, and they will be keen to banish any memory of the three goals they conceded in their last away league game against Huddersfield Town - as many as they had shipped in their first six on the road in the Championship this season.

Boro boss Warnock turned 72 this week and though the win against Swansea would have been an appropriate birthday present, a win at Stoke really would be the icing on the cake.

Warnock has won his last three away league matches against Stoke, having won none of his first five there between 1997 and 2006. Boro are also looking to win consecutive away league matches against Stoke for the first time since March 1956.

Stoke City Championship form: LWWLDW

Middlesbrough Championship form: DDLWLW


Team News

Stoke City players celebrate Steven Fletcher's goal against Watford on November 4, 2020© Reuters

O'Neill will be hoping that Ryan Shawcross will be ready to feature having come through numerous Under-23 fixtures unscathed, but will likely be without Steven Fletcher and Lee Gregory, while John Obi Mikel is a major doubt.

Youngster Nathan Collins could be at right-back for a while, not just for Christmas, Michael O'Neill has hinted.

Warnock will again be without recent signing Grant Hall as he experienced a setback to his recovery earlier in the week.

Otherwise, Warnock now has a full squad to choose from, given Sam Morsy's return to action.

Britt Assombalonga and George Saville could return to the starting lineup after being rested in midweek.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bursik; Collins, Chester, Batth, Fox; Cousins, Clucas; Campbell, Powell, Brown; Vokes

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Dijksteel, McNair, Fry, Bola; Tavernier, Howson, Saville; Watmore, Akpom, Johnson


SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 0-1 Middlesbrough

Two strong sides face-off on Saturday, and there is not a lot to separate the two on paper. Lots of goals have been scored at the Bet365 so far this season, but Boro are a tough nut to crack and we see them coming away with the spoils - beating a fellow promotion rival for the second time in four days.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com 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:data


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Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pictured on November 7, 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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