Stoke v Brentford Preview: Potters look to move into top six

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the bet 365 stadium
Bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent.

Michael O’Neill’s Stoke have the chance to move into the SkyBet Championship play-off places on Saturday afternoon with a win over Brentford.

The Potters sit just two points behind sixth-placed Swansea City and three points at the Bet365 Stadium could see the Northern Irishman’s side climb to as high as fourth, leapfrogging this weekend’s opponents in the process.

A 2-2 draw at home to Barnsley on Wednesday night means that Stoke will also have their chance to record their first league win at home this year – their only other home win coming in the Carabao Cup against Gillingham. 

Brentford have also started strongly with the Bees showing no sign of any hangover following their Play-Off Final heartbreak last season.

Two goals from Ivan Toney secured a 2-1 win for Thomas Frank’s men at Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night, leaving the West London outfit with a chance to also move into the top six come the full-time whistle on Saturday.

Key Players

Tyreese Campbell – Stoke 

Last season’s breakout prospect, striker Tyrese Campbell could be the thorn in a Brentford defence that has the joint fifth-worst record in the league, conceding seven goals so far.

The Cheadle-born academy graduate opened his account for the year against Barnsley on Wednesday to compliment his two assists he had picked up in previous games. 

Last season Campbell failed to score in three attempts against the Bees but with the 20-year-old looking to build upon his 13 goals in all competitions in his maiden campaign and now having got off the mark, will be relishing the prospect to add to his tally.

Ivan Toney – Brentford

Signed in the summer to accommodate the heavy losses of key players Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, who both departed for Premier League moves, Ivan Toney has seemingly slotted in with ease following his move from League One side Peterborough United.

The former Newcastle man is the Championship’s top scorer at present, scoring seven goals from six games – averaging a goal every 71 minutes.

Aside from his one goal against Millwall, the 24-year-old has scored a brace in each of his last three games and could well be the Stoke backline’s biggest test so far.

Team News

Stoke

Nathan Collins’ red-card was overturned after he was sent off for a straight red challenge against Barnsley.

Danny Batth would have been expected to replace the Irish youngster however the 19-year-old is now likely to keep his place in the side.

Sam Clucas is expected to be ruled out due to issues with both his calves and shins.

Stoke Predicted Line-Up: Davies; Collins, Souttar, Chester; Smith, Mikel, Thompson, Tymon; Powell, Fletcher, Campbell.

Brentford

Thomas Frank will also be forced to make a change in the defensive area of the pitch after centre-back Pontus Jansson suffered a hamstring injury in Brentford’s win over Sheffield Wednesday – with Mads Bech Sorensen expected to deputise in his absence.

With the Bees in a fine run of form, winning their last three games on the bounce, it could be a case of not fixing what isn’t broken this weekend and bar Sorenson, name an unchnged line-up.

Brentford Predicted Line-Up: Raya; Dalsgaard, Sorenson, Pinnock, Henry; Dasilva, Janelt, Jensen; Mbuemo, Toney, Ghoddos.

Last Time Out

Stoke 1-0 Brentford 18 July 2020

Last season’s previous meeting between the two sides saw Stoke deal a major blow to Brentford’s automatic promotion hopes as a Lee Gregory goal in the 38th minute saw the Potters end the Bees’ eight-match winning run.

Whilst Brentford felt the full effects of that defeat – ultimately failing in their push for a top-two finish, in addition to Wembley heartache against London rivals Fulham, Gregory’s goal for Stoke was enough to assure their place in the second tier for another season.

Pre-Match Thoughts

Ahead of a busy fixture list, with Saturday’s game being the first of five in a space of two weeks, Stoke boss Michael O’Neill feels his side have worked hard and are ready to try and extend their six-game unbeaten run.

He said: “The games are coming around very quickly and tomorrow gives us another opportunity to gain maximum points at our home.

“Our players need to be ready for that test as well as the games coming up and likewise, we need to be prepared for a little bit of inconsistency over the next few weeks.

“I expect a similar challenge from Brentford like we did toward the end of last season and I don’t expect the way they try to play will change too much.”

Brentford boss Frank meanwhile had high praise for his side’s opponents in what he believes will be a difficult test.

The 47-year-old said: “Stoke have had a good start in terms of performances this season.

“They’re settling into what they want to do and are very difficult to break down on the pitch.

“We would like to finish the week with nine points, but we know it is going to be an extremely difficult challenge.”

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