The Sky Blues travel to the bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City on Wednesday night. Here’s everything you need to know about our opponents.
Name: Stoke City
Stadium: bet365 Stadium (first opened 1997)
Nickname: The Potters
Address: bet365 Stadium, Stanley Matthews Way, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 4EG
Pitch Size: 115 x 74 yards
Stoke are currently 12th in the Sky Bet Championship table, having fallen out of the play-off picture since the turn of the year.
The Potters top scorer is Nick Powell who has scored 12 goals this season whilst Steven Fletcher has provided five assists as well as chipping in with nine goals.
The Staffordshire club are winless in their last three league games but have only lost two of their last eight home matches, sitting eight points above the Sky Blues in the table.
Michael O’Neill was appointed Stoke manager in November 2019, having previously been in charge of Northern Ireland for eight years.
The 51-year-old briefly represented the Sky Blues in the Premier League during his playing career, making six appearances for the club, and began life as a manager with Scottish third-tier side Brechin City in April 2006.
After two and a half seasons in charge of Brechin he departed for Irish club Shamrock Rovers in December 2008.
He led Rovers to the League of Ireland title in his first full season in charge, their first league championship in 16 years, before winning a league and cup double the following campaign.
O’Neill also led Shamrock into the UEFA Europa League group stages during his tenure becoming the first ever League of Ireland side to reach the group stages of a European competition.
His success with Shamrock saw him appointed as Northern Ireland manager in December 2011 and he steered Norn Iron to their first ever European Championships after qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016 where he recorded a memorable win against Ukraine before bowing out in the second round.
He was awarded with an MBE by the Queen for his services to football and to the community in Northern Ireland in 2017.
O’Neill was appointed as Stoke’s new manager whilst still in charge of the Green and White Army, having guided his country to a UEFA Euro 2020 play-off spot, before resigning as Northern Ireland manager in April last year after the play-offs were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He lifted the Potters from the foot of the table last season, eventually finishing eight points clear of safety, and had the Potters challenging for a top-six finish before a string of injuries halted their play-off push this term.
With Stoke, O’Neill has managed 80 matches recording 31 wins, 21 draws and 28 defeats.
Last Six Games
Drew – Stoke 0-0 Preston (Sky Bet Championship)
Lost – Birmingham 2-0 Stoke (Sky Bet Championship)
Lost – Stoke 1-2 Millwall (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Bristol City 0-2 Stoke (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Stoke 1-0 Derby (Sky Bet Championship)
Drew – Cardiff 0-0 Stoke (Sky Bet Championship)
Last Time We Met
The two sides last met on Boxing Day last year with the Sky Blues held to a goalless draw at St Andrew’s in a game of few chances.
Matty Godden saw an early effort saved by Josef Bursik after a neat exchange with Jamie Allen before Ben Wilson made a terrific acrobatic save diving high to his right to deny Jacob Brown’s venomous shot.
Jordan Thompson fired narrowly wide for the visitors just before the interval before his looping effort, early in the second period, struck the crossbar from Brown’s cutback.
The Potters created one final opportunity when Tommy Smith’s cross from the right found Steven Fletcher in the penalty area only for the striker’s header to fly wide of the target, forcing both teams to settle for a point.
Sky Blues Wins – 27
Draws – 9
Stoke Wins – 29
Manchester United youth graduate Danny Pugh had two spells with the Potters as well as a short stint with the Sky Blues during his career.
Pugh came through the Red Devils academy and made seven appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side during his two seasons with the first-team before joining Leeds United as part of the deal that took Alan Smith to Old Trafford in May 2004.
He spent two seasons at Elland Road before completing a move to Preston North End in June 2006 where he would spend the next 18 months before joining Stoke on loan in November 2007.
The move was made permanent the following January and he helped the Potters secure promotion to the Premier League in his first season with the club.
Pugh would go on to make 89 appearances for the Potters, scoring three goals, during his five seasons with the club, which included scoring against Arsenal in the Premier League and featured for the club in the 2011 FA Cup Final.
He re-joined Leeds on loan in September 2011 before completing his second permanent switch to Elland Road the following January and spent time on loan at Sheffield Wednesday before linking up with the Sky Blues in July 2014.
The left-sided player suffered a long-term ankle injury just two games into his City career and would make just seven appearances for the club during his one season with the Sky Blues.
Short spells with Bury and Blackpool would follow before finishing his career back in Staffordshire with Port Vale where he played for three seasons before joining the coaching staff at the club and was named as caretaker manager of the Valiants earlier this year prior to Darrell Clarke’s appointment.
Former forward Ian Painter (pictured right) made over a century of appearances for the Potters before enduring an injury-plagued time with the Sky Blues.
Painter came through Stoke’s academy and top scored for the club in the 1984/85 season before departing after their relegation the following season.
He made 123 appearances for the Potters, scoring 24 goals, during his four years with the first-team.
The England youth international joined the Sky Blues ahead of the 1986/87 campaign and made just six appearances for the club before being forced to retire through injury at the age of 23-years-old.
Oliver Langford will be the man in the middle on Wednesday night, taking charge of his 29th game of the 2020/21 season.
He last refereed the Sky Blues in November last year when City played out a stalemate with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.
This will be Langford’s 13th season as a Football League referee and he has officiated the Sky Blues on two previous occasions, with City drawing one and losing one of those matches.
So far, Langford has awarded 101 yellow cards and six red cards across 28 matches in the Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One, Sky Bet League Two, Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
He will be assisted by Steven Meredith and Adrian Waters with Matthew Donohue acting as fourth official.