Stoke City are sitting pretty in the middle of the Premier League table and it is pretty clear that their season is effectively finished, in as far as they are relatively safe from relegation but with little realistic chance of making it to the top six by the close of play. They certainly aren’t alone in that regard however and it is safe to assume that manager Mark Hughes would be more than happy to finish the campaign in the top half of the league table.
The Potters have managed just eight wins this season so far but these have all been against the lesser teams in the division, namely Burnley, Hull City, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Swansea City and Watford. Their struggles have been against sides in the top half of the Premier League and this weekend’s opponents – Middlesbrough – certainly aren’t in the latter category.
The Tees-siders are winless in the top-flight since mid-December when they thrashed Swansea City 3-0 at the Riverside and as such it makes perfect sense to back Stoke City to collect all three points on Saturday afternoon. Bizarrely enough, Aitor Karanka is escaping the usual criticism for the fact that his side are the worst side in the Premier League as regards goals scored, chances created and shots on goal. Boro possess a relatively decent defensive line-up but they continue to concede an average of one goal each match. Losing 1-0 week-in week-out is certainly not good enough to avoid relegation and that is the outcome which we expect on Saturday afternoon at the Bet365 Stadium.