It’s the battle of the mid-table this evening as 11th plays host 10th. You could also call it Stoke playing host to Southampton at The Bet 365 Stadium. Both teams have had a relatively decent run of form as of late so we look set for an close run encounter.
Stoke go into this game on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday. They did give Arsenal a scare though after going ahead from a somewhat contentious spot kick. Granit Xhaka’s elbow on Joe Allen was believed to be deliberate and Charlie Adam subsequently slotted the ball home from the spot.
But that would be as good as got for Mark Hughes’s men as Arsenal’s quality began to shine through as they scored 3 unanswered goals to go on and win the game. That was Stoke first defeat in three games and one that sees them slip out of the bottom half.
That’s because their opponents Southampton fared better over the course of the weekend. After the news that Charlie Austin was to be ruled out for four months due to a shoulder injury it didn’t seem to cause much of a detriment to their sides performance over Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Sofiane Boufel’s goal was the difference as they moved up to 10th in the table but this was a Middlesbrough side who are the lowest scorers in the league so although 1 goal would have been enough in this particular case they may well need to add reinforcements to the attack line in January.
That’s because Southampton themselves aren’t setting the league alight with goals this season even when Charlie Austin was fit. The Saints have only managed to score on 14 occassions this season, a goal record of less than 1 per game on average.
But the saving grace has been that they aren’t conceding all that much either. Conversely they have the joint second meanest defence with just 15 goals conceded. A record shared by Arsenal and only bettered by Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
With so little between the two sides it’s a tough one to call and therefore that usually means the game will end in a draw. But with Austin ruled out for Southampton I think they may well become unstuck Tonight so because of that I’m going to plump for a Stoke victory. A home win for me.