Stoke's poor home record a concern
Blackburn posting league-low xG figures
Stoke run riot on Wearside
Alex Neil enjoyed the perfect return to Wearside as his Stoke side stunned Sunderland with a 5-1 thrashing at the Stadium of Light last Saturday. A well-worked first goal from Josh Laurent set the tone just before the break, allowing the Potters to play to their strengths on the counter-attack, continually picking off the hosts in a ruthless performance.
Tyrese Campbell extended the advantage with an early second-half double in the space of four minutes to give City a commanding lead. Sunderland reduced the deficit but Dwight Gayle was on-hand to bag a further brace and complete an eye-catching rout that was easily record Stoke's best display since Neil left the Black Cats in August.
Neil was full of praise for his players: "The game plan worked for us worked as well as it probably could. I knew it was going to be contrasting styles and we're big, strong and powerful and Sunderland are smaller, technical and work the ball really well. It was going to be a case of who did it better and we did it better in the game."
Ben Wilmot, Matija Sarkic and Ben Pearson will all be assessed ahead of Friday night's clash after being withdrawn due to injury, although none appear to be serious or long-term concerns.
Blackburn extend winning streak
Blackburn's promotion hopes are gathering pace after Rovers recorded a fourth successive victory to cement their place inside the top-six. Jon Dahl Tomasson's side beat high-flying Sheffield United 1-0 at Ewood Park last weekend with Harry Pickering's first goal since November 2021 proving decisive after a stunning breakaway move.
Blackburn deserved maximum points and could have extended the margin of victory had Tyrhys Dolan and Sam Szmodics' shots not rattled off the woodwork. Despite late pressure from the Blades, Aynsley Pears was relatively untested, and Rovers were even afforded the luxury of dropping Ben Brereton Diaz to the bench with the Chilean in need of a breather.
A delighted Tomasson said: "I'm extremely pleased with the win, a deserved win. We hit the woodwork twice and we all know when we play Sheffield United, with that Premier League experience and budget, we know it's going to be a tough day at the office. But we dealt with them really well. We created some good moments."
After impressing in recent weeks, Sam Gallagher, Sorba Thomas, Szmodics and Dolan will be hoping to keep their place in Tomasson's front-four although Brereton Diaz is pushing for a recall.
Stoke have enjoyed the majority of their recent meetings with Blackburn. The Potters have posted back-to-back away victories over Rovers, and have recorded W3-D2-L1 in the duos' past six Championship encounters. However, Blackburn have bagged top honours in three of their last four trips to Stoke, including a 1-0 success here last season.
On Friday night Stoke 2.1011/10 are looking to secure successive league wins for just the second time this term. The Potters have proven a model of inconsistency across the campaign, with results proving particularly problematic as hosts. Exclude the bottom-three and City have won just three of their 15 home contests (W3-D4-L8), losing six of nine against the top-half.
Unbeaten in eight, and with four straight wins under their belt, Blackburn 4.003/1 have cemented their place inside the play-off positions. Yet Rovers are rarely rated by the market due to their below-par performance data. Tomasson's men are generating the lowest Expected Goals (xG) figure in the division and have lost half of their 18 away days thus far.
With the Championship averaging only 2.44 goals per-game, and 55% of fixtures featuring Under 2.5 Goals, it's perhaps unsurprising to see a repeat of Under 2.5 Goals here trading at just 1.654/6. However, Both Teams To Score 'No' is available at 19/20 and has proven a profitable formula in 52% of league-wide contests, with Stoke and Blackburn prominent.
No second-tier club has seen BTTS No pay-out more often on home soil than Stoke with 12/17 (71%) matches here seeing at least one side fail to score. Meanwhile, 12/18 (67%) of Blackburn's road trips have followed suit, meaning 24/35 (69%) of the two teams' collective home/away encounters have seen our proposed play pay-out.