Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday November 27 2009
28th November 2009
Stoke will be looking to improve on last week's poor performance (despite earning all three points) against Portsmouth and Ewood Park should be a good opportunity for at least a point (if not all three) as the Potters go in search of their second away win of the season.
With the Rovers' boss, Sam Allardyce, absent after heart surgery (we wish him a speedy recovery), it will still be a stern test for both sides with neither exactly having a reputation for creating fast and flowing football.
Tony Pulis is very keen not to build expectations as the Potters are still struggling for some consistency after a battling display saw them win away at Spurs, but then conceded a lead to lose at Hull three weeks ago.
He told the media this week that fans need to be more realistic: 'If we turn up and think we're just going win games, that isn't going to happen. We've got to make sure everyone's focused and together.'
Allardyce will not be there after his operation today but you can be sure that he's had more than just a little input in the team selection after their 3-0 defeat at Fulham in midweek. Assistant manager Neil McDonald will have been well primed by his boss and has a full squad to choose from.
He's the top scorer with six goals after a injury hit season last year restricted him to just seven appearances but he's now back and firing on all cylinders.
Stoke will welcome back Abdy Faye from suspension, but fans will be hoping that Pulis gives Andy Wilkinson another start after his man of the match display last week. Glenn Whelan is fit again and should start but we'll have to wait and see if there is a starting slot for fellow Irishman, Liam Lawrence as the boss is likely to continue his cautious (some might say too cautious) approach to away matches.
First goal last week, so we're all hoping that was the first of many more.
Saturday 5th December: Arsenal (away) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 12th December: Wigan (home) kick-off: 12.45pm
Saturday 19th December: Aston Villa (away) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday November 27 2009
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