Stoke are up for the big match
21st March 2009
This could well prove the biggest game of the season for the Potters. Three points against the team below us will lift us up the table. Defeat and we could be getting stuck in the relegation mire. Boro have been nearly as poor as the Potters on their travels with just two wins, but their recent poor form (home and away) is dire. Just one win in the last eighteen and that was a 2-0 win against Liverpool at the Riverside.
But we shouldn't get too complacent. You only had to watch Stoke reserves play Pompey on Tuesday night to remind yourself that football is not a game where the deserving always get their just rewards.
TP has tried to lend his support to Boro's embattled manager, Gareth Southgate, but won't be doing him any favours: 'I have tremendous respect for Gareth, but on Saturday there's only one team I want to win and that's us.'
Stoke City Team News:
Matty Etherington only played 30 minutes in Tuesday's reserve match before limping off, but he did look bright up to that point. He is said to be ok, but may still be struggling for match fitness. Another questionable starter is Ricardo Fuller. A fit Fuller is a handful for any defence, but he still seems to be suffering from the after effects of his dislocated shoulder. If Fuller does start, Mamady Sidibe will drop to the bench.
Player to watch: Thomas Sorensen
He had a mare of a game last week at Everton, but it must remembered that he has saved us many points over the course of the season. This Saturday he does need to be on top form.
Middlesborough Team News:
Matthew Bates serves a one-match ban after being sent off against Portsmouth last weekend.
Captain, Emanuel Pogatetz faces a late fitness test on a knee injury and Jeremie Aliadiere is also doubtful.
Player to watch: Afonso Alves
The Brazilian striker arrived at the Riverside last season and made an instant impact with six goals in eleven appearances. This time around he's failed to hit the mark with just four goals in the League in 25 appearances.
Match Facts & Stats
Saturday 4th April: West Brom (away) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 11th April: Newcastle (home) kick-off: 5.30pm
Saturday 18th April: Blackburn (home) kick-off: 3pm