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Opposition report: Stoke City

Blues go into today's game looking to make it three home wins in as many matches.

BCFC

A closer look at today's opponents...

FORM GUIDE:

Earlier this week, Stoke City were beaten in a fairly even encounter at the Bet365 Stadium by in-form Millwall. The 2-1 victory for the Lions looks to have all-but ended the Potters' hopes of a top-six finish and a shot at this years play-offs.

However, it's been a decent few weeks for today's visitors, who've won three, drawn once and lost twice either side of the recent international break. 

Prior to the Millwall loss, wins were picked up against Bristol City and Derby County, whilst a draw was lodged against Cardiff. 

Looking more broadly at the league table, Stoke sit 11th at the start of play. Of their 40 league games played this season, they've won 14, drawn 13 and lost 13. 

IN THE DUGOUT: 

Former long-serving Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill was appointed Stoke's manager in November 2019. He took over a side rooted to the bottom of the table after the team had struggled under the guidance of Nathan Jones.

Five wins in their last nine games eventually guided them to safety.

This is his first full season in the Potteries and after stopping a sinking ship last time out, mid-table safety will probably represent a decent campaign. 

But it could've been different for O'Neill's side, had they not drawn quite as many games. 13 in total has really stinted their progress, with nine of those coming on the road. 

A goalscoring midfielder in his prime, O'Neill featured over 400 times during his own 20-year professional career in which-time, he scored on 65 occasions.  

Coaching spells at Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers eventually led to his taking up of the national team managerial position in 2011. 

ONE TO WATCH:

After starting his professional career as a striker, it's little surprise that Potters midfielder Nick Powell knows where the net is. 

12 goals and three assists in his 38 appearances this season represents an extremely healthy return for the former Manchester United and Wigan man. 

In fact, it's his best goalscoring run since the 2017/18 season. 

Confident with the ball driving forward, with good distribution and an eye for goal makes Powell a Potter to keep an eye on this afternoon. 

LAST TIME OUT: 

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Bet365 Stadium in October last year.

Nick Powell rescued a point for his side after Harlee Dean had opened the scoring in the 65th minute, powering home Maxime Colin's corner. 

PREVIOUS KNOCKINGS:

It's been 127 years since Blues, then known as Small Heath, and Stoke City met for their first official encounter. It came in the Old First Division in October 1894 and ended in a 2-2 draw.

Since then, the two teams have played each other a further 103 times over the years. 

Overall, Blues have won on 37 occasions, Stoke 44 times, with 23 draws in-between. 

Recent results favour Blues, who have won three of the last five encounters. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Stoke City are the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County.

Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863, the club changed its name to Stoke Football Club in 1878 and then to Stoke City in 1925 after Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status.

The Potters were also one of the founding members of the Football League.

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