Derby County V Stoke City
Saturday, 28 January 2012 – 15:00 GMT
FA Cup Fourth-Round
Everyone has come to terms with the fact Stoke City are now an established Premier League club. There is more chance of them qualifying for Europe than getting relegated, as they shown last season when making it all the way to the FA Cup final whilst securing a satisfactory mid-table league finish. So at odds-against to dump out a team situated slap-bang in the middle of the Championship, we’d be mad not to include them in our weekend accumulators…
Possibly. However, it isn’t though they’re in scintillating form. Nor are they presented with the most straightforward of tasks. It’s just two wins from seven following last week’s surprise home defeat to West Brom, with those two triumphs during an otherwise dismal run coming against struggling Blackburn in the top flight and Gillingham of League Two in the FA Cup. We shouldn’t forget what’s on the horizon, either.
In three weeks time, on February 16, Stoke City welcome La Liga hot-shots Valencia to the Brittania for a Round of 32 Europa League tie. Now that is some distraction, even if there are numerous games to be contested before what is arguably the biggest match – certainly most glamorous – in the club’s recent history.
The Potters are also notoriously poor travellers, although they have improved to some degree this season. Just as well, as in the second half of last season – from January through to May (2011) – Stoke failed to record a single away win, losing seven of ten on the road. What’s more, or worse, is that they failed to even score on seven occasions. With all this mind, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Tony Pulis’ Potters are the most toothless away outfit in the top flight with only eight scored from their eleven outings so far.
Their opponents are Derby County, a club who have faced just about everyone worth their since the turn of the century. They won’t be phased by Premier League opposition. Whether they can compete with them is another question altogether. On current form however, they just might. Their 0-0 stalemate away to Burnley last weekend put an end to their five-match winning streak, but it was yet another clean sheet for a Rams defence which has gone its previous four games without conceding; they’ve shipped one goal in 9 hours of football, and just two in their last five matches at Pride Park, of which all five were in victory.
There is definitely potential for an upset here, especially if Tony Pulis rotates his squad – and I suspect he might. Stoke’s league form has gone worryingly array over Christmas and arresting that slump, as well as preserving some for crucial upcoming games – like the one against Valencia in Europe – are just some of the reasons why Pulis could rest several. I do stress could, as he is one of a select few managers who shows virtually every competition the utmost respect.
Derby are whacking great odds of 5/2 with BetFred to spring a surprise by winning for the sixth consecutive home game. The draw, meanwhile, is 23/10 with Bet365. I consider both exceptional value, as while Derby are in terrific form – especially on their own patch, they do struggle in front of goal, this against Championship opposition, and so may find breaking down an intimidating Stoke rearguard a stiff ask.
Or, we could combine the two and go with Derby on the Double Chance. We’re a winner provided Stoke don’t win then. That’s 7/10 with StanJames. The same firm also offer odds of 10/1 on a goalless draw. Decent shout perhaps considering the point I made above.
Recommended Bet: Derby County Double Chance @ 7/10 StanJames
Value Bet: 0-0 Draw @ 10/1 StanJames