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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Sky Blues Host Stoke City on Boxing Day

The Sky Blues are unbeaten in their last six matches at home...

24 December 2020

The Sky Blues host Stoke City at St Andrew’s on Boxing Day. Here’s everything you need to know about our opponents.

Fact File

Name: Stoke City

Founded: 1863

Stadium: bet365 Stadium (first opened 1997)

Capacity: 30,089

Nickname: The Potters

Address: bet365 Stadium, Stanley Matthews Way, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 4EG

Pitch Size: 115 x 74 yards

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The Opposition

Stoke are currently seventh in the table and sit just outside of the play-off places on goal difference, five points away from the automatic promotion spots.

The Potters are managed by Michael O’Neill and have the likes of Nathan Collins and James Chester in defence, Nigeria international John Obi Mikel and Nick Powell in midfield and Tyrese Campbell in attack.

The Staffordshire club are on a three-game unbeaten run in the league and have conceded just two goals in their last seven matches.

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Manager

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 this 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, with his side looking likely to challenge for a play-off spot this term.

With Stoke, O’Neill has managed 57 matches recording 26 wins, 13 draws and 18 defeats.

Stoke City Fans.jpg

Last Six Games

Lost – Stoke 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Carabao Cup)

Won – Stoke 1-0 Blackburn Rovers (Sky Bet Championship)

Drew – Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Stoke (Sky Bet Championship)

Drew – Derby County 0-0 Stoke (Sky Bet Championship)

Lost – Stoke 1-2 Cardiff City (Sky Bet Championship)

Won – Stoke 1-0 Middlesbrough (Sky Bet Championship)

Last Meeting vs Stoke City.jpg

Last Time We Met

The two sides last met in the FA Cup in January 2018, when the Sky Blues stunned the then Premier League club to claim a 2-1 win at the Ricoh Arena.

Stoke came close to breaking the deadlock when Mame Biram Diouf’s effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by the retreating Jordan Willis.

The Sky Blues then went ahead on 24 minutes when debutant Jordan Maguire-Drew delivered a corner from the right that was headed back across goal by Jack Grimmer and powered home by Wills from close range.

Diouf spurned another good chance for the visitors when he headed Charlie Adam’s cross into the ground and over the bar from four-yards out.

City almost doubled their lead when Marc McNulty was played through and took the ball beyond England international Jack Butland but couldn’t quite apply the finish from a tight angle, shooting right across the face of goal.

Mark Robins side continued to search for a second goal when Max Biamou played McNulty through only for the striker to be denied by the foot of the Stoke keeper Butland before Geoff Cameron cleared the ball to safety.

The visitors were awarded a penalty early in the second-half, when Willis was adjudged to have tripped Ramadan Sobhi inside the area, which was converted by Adam shooting low into the bottom left corner.

City restored their lead on 68 minutes when Grimmer wandered onto the edge of the penalty area before firing a superb effort into the bottom right corner leaving Butland with no chance.

The Potters responded when Jamie Allen picked out Peter Crouch who unleashed a powerful half-volley that was fisted away by Liam O’Brien.

Stoke had one final chance when Saido Berahino saw his effort heroically blocked as City held on to secure a memorable win.

Head-to-Head Record

Sky Blues Wins – 27

Draws – 8

Stoke Wins – 29

Club Connections

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Marcus Hall

Defender Marcus Hall made over 300 appearances for the Sky Blues across two spells with the club and spent three seasons with Stoke.

Hall came through the Sky Blues academy and would spend eight seasons with the club making 157 appearances, scoring four goals, playing most of his games in the Premier League.

Brief spells with Nottingham Forest and Southampton would follow, before signing for Stoke in December 2002.

The Coventry-born defender revived his career with the Potters, making 87 appearances, scoring one goal, across three seasons in Staffordshire before returning to the Sky Blues in January 2005.

Hall would spend a further six seasons with his hometown club in the Championship, before departing City having made a total of 308 appearances, across two spells.

He finished his career with Northampton Town in League Two, making 28 appearances for the Cobblers, before retiring at the end of the 2010/11 season.

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Carl Dickinson

Stoke favourite Carl Dickinson came through the Potters academy before spending a brief spell on loan with the Sky Blues later in his career.

Dickinson made his league debut for Stoke against the Sky Blues and helped the club achieve promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2007/08, playing five times in the top-flight the following campaign.

The defender made 60 appearances for Stoke across seven seasons and was loaned out to Vikingur, Blackpool, Leeds United, Barnsley and Portsmouth during his time at the bet365 Stadium.

He departed for Watford in July 2011 and spent two seasons at Vicarage Road, before once again being loaned out, spending brief spells with Portsmouth and the Sky Blues.

With City, Dickinson made six appearances in League One during the 2012/13 campaign, before completing a permanent switch to Port Vale in July 2013.

The 33-year-old impressed at the Staffordshire club eventually becoming club captain, making 143 appearances in three seasons at Vale Park, before then spending two seasons with Notts County in League Two.

He joined his current employers Yeovil Town in July 2018 and is in his third season with the National League club.

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Match Officials

Jarred Gillett will be the man in the middle on Saturday afternoon, taking charge of his 15th game of the 2020/21 season.

He last refereed the Sky Blues in October when City suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth at St Andrew’s.

So far, Gillett has awarded 48 yellow cards and two red cards across 14 matches in the Championship, League One and Carabao Cup.

He will be assisted by Philip Dermott and Richard Wild with Robert Lewis acting as fourth official.


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