After what feels like a lifetime; Club Football is finally back. Ahead of us we have a tough trip to the Bet365 Stadium to battle with former manager Gary Rowett.
The feel good factor is well and truly around St Andrews at the moment and so it should be. We have a fine young manager getting the best out of the players and also brining that special connection between the club and fans back in the process.
So far we are 8 games unbeaten – yes 6 of those have been draws, but it’s a hell of an improvement from last year when we looked like losing every game we played. Out of those 8 games you could probably argue at least 5-6 should have been wins if luck was on our side and we’d be sat nicely in a play off position. Unfortunately that’s not the case and we’re a lot lower down the table then we deserve to be.
Stoke on the other hand have had a rather underwhelming season so far, considering the firepower they have at their disposal. I’ve seen various Stoke fans question Rowett’s ability to change a game when it’s going against them – something we all know very well. They currently sit 2 points above us in the table and 14th in the league.
The last time we visited Stoke was in the Premier League days – the game ended in a 3-2 loss, so let’s hope it’s a different story this weekend.
The boys will be roared on by a sold out away end on Saturday, something no other club has done so far this season. I’m sure the support will make a massive difference in performance given the noise Blues fans generate.
Looking at the game itself it’s going to be interesting to see how both sides line up as a handful of players have been away on international duty.
For Blues only Maghoma has represented his national side during the break, so it’ll be interesting to see if Monk decides he needs a rest and Connor Mahoney gets the nod.
Meanwhile Stoke have had the likes of Ashley Williams, Jack Butland, Joe Allen and James McClean on international duty, but I’m sure they’ll all be featuring due to the quality they possess in this division.
Here’s my predicted Stoke line up:
Martina, Williams, Martins Indi, Pieters
Ince, Etebo, Allen, McClean
As you can say there’s a lot of talent in that Stoke side and should be hammering this division, but they’re there for the taking.
Blues on the other hand will more than likely attempt to keep the same line up we’ve been seeing of recent times.
Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen
Jota, Kieftenbeld, Gardner, Mahoney
I can see Saturday being Mahoney’s first start given that Maghoma has been away from the squad. Hopefully he’ll be ready to grab the opportunity with both hands and show the quality we’ve seen when he’s come on as a sub.
Overall it’s going to be a tight affair on Saturday and it really could go either way. I do think we’ll leave Stoke with a point and I would be very happy with that, hopefully I’m correct again.
Keep Right On!