Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Championship clash between Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Blackburn are currently 11th in the table, having picked up 32 points from their 23 matches this season, while Stoke occupy eighth, just two points behind sixth-placed Watford.
Blackburn have won nine, drawn five and lost nine of their 23 Championship matches this season to sit 11th, five points behind sixth-placed Watford ahead of this weekend’s contest at Ewood Park.
Tony Mowbray‘s side recorded a 2-0 win over Birmingham City in their last Championship match on January 2 but exited the FA Cup in the third round last weekend as they suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Doncaster Rovers.
Blackburn have been out of the Premier League since 2012 and actually spent the 2017-18 campaign down in League One before returning at the first time of asking, and they have finished 15th and 11th in their last two seasons in the second tier of English football.
Rovers face a tough task to secure promotion to the top flight but have the league’s joint-highest goalscorer in their ranks, with Adam Armstrong netting 16 times during an impressive campaign.
Stoke’s recent record against Blackburn is impressive, though, losing just one of the last four matches between the two teams, and the Potters took four points from their two Championship fixtures last term.
Stoke are currently on a five-game winless run in all competitions, including a 4-0 home defeat to Premier League side Leicester City in the third round of the FA Cup last weekend.
Michael O’Neill‘s team also lost 1-0 at home to Bournemouth in the league on January 2, but a relatively strong campaign to date has left them in eighth position, just two points outside of the playoff positions.
The Potters have finished 16th and 15th in their last two seasons at this level but will believe that they belong at the top level, having enjoyed plenty of success in the Premier League.
Stoke recorded a 1-0 victory when they last faced Blackburn in December, while O’Neill’s side have been impressive on their travels this season, boasting the sixth-best away record in the second tier, picking up 17 points from their 11 matches, suffering just two defeats in the process.
Blackburn Rovers Championship form: LWLDLW
Blackburn Rovers form (all competitions): WLDLWL
Stoke City Championship form: DDWDDL
Stoke City form (all competitions): WLDDLL
Bradley Dack was again in action in the FA Cup, but the midfielder is still not ready to start, and there are not expected to be many surprises in the home side’s XI, with Armstrong, Harvey Elliott and Sam Gallagher all set to feature.
Danny Batth could return from injury this weekend, while Tommy Smith and John Obi Mikel might also feature, but Sam Clucas, Morgan Fox, Tyrese Campbell, Niki Maenpaa, Lee Gregory, Angus Gunn and Adam Davies are out.
Blackburn Rovers possible starting lineup:
Kaminski; Douglas, Lenihan, Johnson, Bell; Holtby, Travis, Davenport; Elliott, Gallagher, Armstrong
Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bursik; Collins, Souttar, Chester; Norrington-Davies, Thompson, Allen, Mikel, McLean; Powell; Fletcher
We say: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Stoke City
There is not an awful lot between these two teams in terms of quality, and we are struggling to separate them this weekend. Stoke will be desperate to return to winning ways in the Championship, but Blackburn must be respected, and we are backing a low-scoring draw between the two former Premier League clubs.
Top betting tip
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