Two of football’s best friends come head to head at the Britannia Stadium tomorrow afternoon as Ian Holloway’s Blackpool clash with Tony Pulis’ Stoke.
Pulis got the better of Ollie last time out – a 4-3 win at the Britannia in the League Cup – but with three points up for grabs, Ollie will be desperate to set the record straight.
It’s two weeks since the Seasiders last played, so arguably our legs will be fresher (especially as we’ve not been able to train much with the weather during that time!), but Stoke have a fearsome record at home.
This footballing weekend is known for being the lowest attended in the year as people save for Christmas/New Year, and as such the game is now pay on the gate, so why not forego an extra few mince pies or sherries this Christmas and get down to the Britannia tomorrow and (hopefully) cheer the Seasiders on to a key three points?
COME ON YOU ‘POOL!
‘Pool assistant manager Steve Thompson reckons that the second half of the season will be much tougher for the Seasiders now that teams are getting used to the way that they play:
‘Myself and the gaffer have spoken and there are certain things we can improve on,’ said Thommo.
‘We have to make sure we do improve because we must be ready to play teams second time around. They will know what they are up against. They won’t take us as lightly as they might have done first time around.
‘But we just have to keep playing the way we can – passing the ball and creating chances. That’s the great thing about the shape we play – we will always create opportunities.
‘We still get disappointed when people try to dismiss Blackpool but I don’t think that’s happening quite as much now.’
Stoke City Team News:
Jermaine Pennant and ex ‘Pool loanee Andy Wilkinson are expected to return, whilst Marc Wilson returns from suspension.
Mama Sidibe remains sidelined however.
Player to watch: Mark Etherington
Pinpointed as Stoke’s main attacking threat by Vital Stoke’s Co-Editor Ryan Kalisz in our interview this week, it is vital that the Seasiders shut Etherington down and prevent him from whipping the crosses in for the likes of Kenwyne Jones.
Blackpool Team News:
Alex Baptiste, Billy Clarke, Matt Gilks, Malaury Martin, Chris Basham, Marlon Harewood and Paul Rachubka all remain unavailable.
Ludovic Sylvestre will return to the subs bench however after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Player to watch: Craig Cathcart
The youngster has been one of the finds of the season since signing from Manchester United in the summer.
He’ll have a busy afternoon tomorrow though as Stoke will look to pepper the ‘Pool penalty area with some direct football for the likes of Kenwyne Jones to feed off, and Ian Holloway will be looking for Cathcart (along with the rest of the ‘Pool defence) to provide ample protection for keeper Richard Kingson who despite impressing in tangerine so far looks suspect in the air.
A good defensive performance could well be the key to three points tomorrow afternoon.
Match Facts & Stats
Stanley Matthews will be remembered by both sets of supporters and figures from his personal and professional life pre-match with a short memorial tribute.
Stoke are unbeaten in seven league games against the Seasiders, with the ‘Pool last beating the Potters in 1998.
Stoke are unbeaten in their last five, scoring eleven in the process.
‘Pool meanwhile have only lost one of their last six – the 3-2 defeat to Aston Villa where manager Ian Holloway made ten changes.
League games involving Blackpool this season average over three goals a game, and the Seasiders have the second worst defensive record in the Premier League (Wolves have the worst).
SeasideEssexXile’s best mate Anthony Taylor is the man in the middle tomorrow. Fingers crossed he (finally) has a good game…
At home to Spurs next Sunday lunchtime, live on Sky.