MX23RW : Friday, February 26 21:50:54| >> :120:27307:27307:
Jan 22, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Bet365 Stadium
StokeStoke City
Fletcher (83')
Collins (81')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Deeney (64' pen.), Sarr (68')
Sierralta (18'), Femenia (34')

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

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

Watford head into Friday's Championship encounter at Stoke City with the opportunity to move level on points with second-placed Swansea City.

Despite remaining in contention for the playoffs, the Potters welcome the Hornets to the bet365 Stadium having failed to win in five matches.

Match preview

Watford manager Xisco Munoz pictured on January 2, 2021© Reuters

Newly-appointed Watford boss Xisco has picked up where Vladimir Ivic left off, picking up victories by narrow margins on a regular basis.

However, while the club's supporters would prefer to be winning games far more comfortably, the change in mood since the Spaniard's arrival is what is crucial to Watford's promotion chances.

Ivic deserves credit for helping Watford get back up and running after relegation from the Premier League, but there are early signs that Xisco has the potential to secure an immediate return to the top flight.

Nine points from four Championship games, a schedule which has included contests versus the top two, has lifted the club to within three points of the automatic promotion places.

Tuesday's 1-0 win over Barnsley came courtesy of a Troy Deeney penalty, but Xisco will take confidence from his side having now gone 265 minutes without conceding a goal in all competitions.

While Stoke have also made a habit of keeping things tight for much of the season, there are signs that Michael O'Neill's side have lost their way in the second tier.

A back-and-forth 3-3 draw at Rotherham United earlier this week means that Stoke have now failed to win a game in any competition for more than a month.

As well as exits from the EFL Cup and FA Cup, five fixtures without success in the second tier have left the team at risk of being pulled into mid-table.

Positives will be taken from Nick Powell scoring in successive games, but O'Neill will acknowledge that Stoke are close to entering must-win territory if they want to stay in contention for the top six.

Stoke City Championship form: WDDLDD
Stoke City form (all competitions): DDLLDD

Watford Championship form: DLWLWW
Watford form (all competitions): LWLLWW

Team News

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

James Chester will return to the Stoke XI after serving a one-match ban, leaving Danny Batth in line to feature among the replacements.

Further changes are expected with Tommy Smith, Joe Allen, James McClean and Steven Fletcher all in contention for a recall.

Xisco is also likely to make alterations to his Watford side with Nathaniel Chalobah and Joao Pedro among the players who should return.

Philip Zinckernagel is also pushing for his first Championship start on one of the flanks.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bursik; Collins, Souttar, Chester; Smith, Allen, Mikel, Thompson, McClean; Powell, Fletcher

Watford possible starting lineup:
Bachmann; Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Masina; Sarr, Chalobah, Hughes, Zinckernagel; Deeney, Pedro

SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 1-2 Watford

Having lost significant ground on the top six, Stoke are under pressure to turn things around against opponents who they will still regard as direct rivals. However, confidence is high in the Hornets' ranks, and we expect the visitors to battle their way to a hard-earned three points.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 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.Over 1.5:data


How you voted: Stoke vs Watford

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Rotherham United manager Paul Warne pictured on January 16, 2021
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