Preview: Stoke City vs Blackpool

Blackpool travel to the Bet365 Stadium this weekend to face Stoke City.

The Tangerines visit on the back of a first win in five after an emphatic 4-1 success over Reading, whereas Stoke go into the game on the back of three consecutive 2-1 defeats, including one at Premier League side Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on Tuesday night.

Both sides know that they must win this to stand any chance of a late play-off push.

Neil Critchley’s side will be without a number of key players for the trip to The Potters.

Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell, defenders Luke Garbutt, James Husband and Richard Keogh as well as midfielder Grant Ward are all out of action, but winger Josh Bowler is fit after picking up a knock last weekend.

Blackpool’s Luke Garbutt during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackpool and Millwall at Bloomfield Road on January 22, 2022 in Blackpool, England. (Photo by Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Stoke are welcoming the returns of Lewis Baker and Phil Jagielka who both missed the FA Cup defeat at Selhurst Park due to being cup tied.

Midfield duo Romanie Sawyers and Mario Vrancic are both back from injuries to bolster Michael O’Neil’s side while Harry Souttar and Abdullah Sima both remain long term absentees.

Romaine Sawyers of Stoke City reacts during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Peterborough United at Bet365 Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

The stats don’t lie, and Blackpool have conceded in six of their last six matches, letting opponents get eight goals in all.

At the back, Blackpool have been far from perfect.

With no two games being the same, we must now wait to see whether that trend might continue in Staffordshire.

Leading up to this clash, Blackpool are without an away league win in eight games and Stoke are without a win in their last five matches – their last win was the 3-0 defeat of Swansea at the start of February.

History is on the hosts’ side though as Stoke haven’t lost a home game against Blackpool since 2010.

City will be looking to complete the league double over the Seasiders for the first time since the 1999-00 season following a 1-0 victory at Bloomfield Road in November, courtesy of a Steven Fletcher header late in the game.

The game marks the two year anniversary since Critchley’s appointment at the Tangerines so he will certainly have the incentive to make the occasion a good one.

A win for either side keeps faint chances of a late play off push alive, with both sides well clear of any relegation fears they may have.