Nickname: The Potters
Stadium: bet365 Stadium
Distance from the KCOM Stadium: 125.4 miles (2 hours 10 minutes)
Manager: Gary Rowett arrived at the bet365 Stadium in the summer with an impressive managerial CV built at three clubs he also served with distinction as a player. The 44-year-old cut his teeth in the world of management with Burton Albion in League Two before masterminding Birmingham’s Great Escape from Championship relegation. He was appointed manager of Derby in March of last year and in his first full season – the 2017/18 campaign – they finished sixth, losing out to Fulham in the Play-Off semi-finals.
Gary Rowett’s Managerial Record at Stoke City: P4 W0 D2 L2
Star Man: Persuading Joe Allen to sign a new contract this summer was arguably Stoke’s most impressive pieces of business. The ‘Welsh Pirlo’ clearly has the ability to still be playing in the Premier League but opted to stay and try and help Rowett’s side earn promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt. The 28-year-old also has a considerable amount of top-flight experience from his time at Swansea City and Stoke City and also featured at Euro 2016 for Wales. He may not be the most intimidating midfielder at 5 ft. 6, but his composure on the ball could see him dictate games for his side throughout the season.
Form Guide: It’s been a tough start to life back in the second tier for the Potters as Rowett’s side are winless after the first four games of the new season. The campaign began with a 3-1 defeat at Leeds United in front of the Sky Sports cameras, before registering their first point at home to Brentford with a 1-1 draw. A second successive stalemate away at Preston North End (2-2) followed before enduring a tough night at the bet365 Stadium in midweek when losing 3-0 to last season’s League One Champions Wigan Athletic.
Formation: During his time at Derby County last season, Gary Rowett favoured the 4-2-3-1 formation but it remains to be seen whether this is how he is going to set his Stoke side up in the long-term. He has already utilised 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 formations this season, so it appears that he is still looking for the best way to set his side up. The Potters have endured a difficult start to life back in the Championship following a ten-year spell in the Premier League, so Rowett might be waiting for a certain system to be successful before sticking to a regular approach.
Line-Up: Cuco Martina could make his Stoke debut when the Tigers visit the bet365 Stadium. The Curacao international, signed on a season-long loan from Everton, has been building up his fitness in the under-23s side and was an unused substitute in the Potters’ midweek defeat to Wigan. Gary Rowett will definitely be without another Everton loanee in Ashley Williams following the centre-back’s dismissal against the Latics, whilst Bruno Martins Indi has missed the last two games with an Achilles injury.
Tactics: Saturday’s opponents have a clear ambition to return to the Premier League at the first attempt this season under the management of Rowett, with automatic promotion the main objective. The club have spent a lot of money this summer on proven Championship players such as Tom Ince and Benik Afobe and anything other than promotion will be seen as a failure. This does put a significant amount of pressure on the team from the start. Rowett’s style of play at Derby was, at times, not popular with all of the club’s supporters and it will be interesting to see whether he implements a similar style at Stoke. The Rams were often difficult to beat during his tenure but did not always play the most entertaining style of football. He will want to shore Stoke’s defence up over time and has the attacking players at his disposal that can hurt teams on the counter-attack.
Head-To-Head: The two sides have met 66 times in league and cup football with the Tigers claiming 18 victories, as opposed to Stoke’s total of 29, with 19 encounters ending all square.
Last Time They Hosted The Tigers: Stoke City 3 Hull City 1 | Sat 15th Apr 2017
Xherdan Shaqiri’s superb strike sealed a first Premier League win in six games for Stoke City as the Potters proved too strong for Marco Silva’s Hull City side.
The home side made the dream start by opening the scoring after just six minutes through Marko Arnautović, who in the process became the highest-scoring Austrian in Premier League history.
However, the Tigers deservedly levelled matters six minutes after half-time via Harry Maguire’s deflected shot. Parity only lasted 15 minutes though as substitute Peter Crouch headed home Jon Walters’ cross to restore the home side’s lead.
And Stoke wrapped up the win when Xherdan Shaqiri took aim from 30 yards to deliver an unstoppable shot beyond the reach of Eldin Jakupović.