Promotion-chasing duo Stoke and Bournemouth lock horns on Saturday night in the Championship. Mark O'Haire is on-hand to provide his preferred play.
"Backing Stoke Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals has paid out in 14 of Stoke’s 22 outings in 2020/21, including eight of the Potters’ previous nine encounters"
Stoke v Bournemouth
Saturday January 2, 19:45
Stoke held in fog-effected clash
Stoke drew for the fourth Championship game in five on Wednesday night as the Potters were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Nottingham Forest in thick fog. Conditions were cold but clear when Michael O'Neill's men took the lead with a comical opening goal after Jordan Thompson's inswinging corner was somehow left on the line by Lewis Grabban.
The Forest striker, covering the near post, got his bearings all wrong as he dipped his head thinking that keeper Brice Samba would claim it, only to look horrified when the ball ended up in the back of the net. But, in worsening weather as the mist descended badly after the break, the visitors levelled proceedings with another bizarre strike.
Stoke skipper James Chester diverted a powerful header past Josef Bursik in the Potters goal - the first O'Neill's parsimonious Potters had leaked in five fixtures. Speaking post-match, O'Neill said: "We looked good in the first half but then we lost the initiative as, in the second half, it turned into a bit of a farce and we presented them with opportunities."
Bournemouth beaten at Brentford
Bournemouth concluded 2020 with a costly 2-1 defeat at fellow promotion-chasers Brentford. Dominic Solanke, denied by a sliding goalline clearance after only 37 seconds, gave the Cherries a deserved first-half lead after meeting a low cross from Lloyd Kelly, but the Bees equalised before the break, ending Bournemouth's run of five clean sheets.
Both sides pressed for a second-half winner, with Tarique Fosu decisively coming off the bench to help extend Brentford secure top honours with 11 minutes to go. The loss meant the Cherries remained six points behind Championship table-toppers Norwich, although Jason Tindall's recently-relegated outfit still possess a game in-hand on the leaders.
Tindall named an unchanged starting XI but there was a welcome return to the squad for Joshua King. Nevertheless, the Bournemouth boss was frustrated by the result, saying: "I don't think we deserved to lose the game based on chances. We were very good and created some excellent opportunities but we didn't take the ones we had and got punished for the two defensive errors we made - that was the difference."
Stoke and Bournemouth are facing off for the first time since their Premier League meetings in 2017/18. The Cherries have triumphed in their last two trips to the Potteries, having lost six such visits on the spin beforehand. However, Bournemouth head here having failed to succeed in their opening league match in any of their last eight calendar years (W0-D6-L2).
Stoke 3.7511/4 have found a slice of consistency this season, built upon a well-drilled and solid foundation. The Potters have only been beaten on five occasions, recording an exceptional 12 clean sheets in 22 outings (W9-D8-L5). The hosts have returned W5-D3-L3 on home soil with hosts posting W3-D1-L2 when welcoming fellow top-half teams to the Bet365 Stadium.
Bournemouth 2.1411/10 have only been beaten three times since being demoted to the second-tier (W10-D8-L3), although Jason Tindall's troops have performed at their best on home soil, picking up 61% of their points tally as hosts. The visitors have earned top honours just three times in 11 away days (W3-D6-L2) but have kept three shutouts in four on the road of late.
Stoke have silenced seven of their last nine opponents with Under 2.5 Goals 1.738/11 also proving profitable in eight of those nine fixtures. Bournemouth had shutout five successive Championship opponents before Wednesday night's defeat at Brentford, and the Cherries have seen Unders cop in five of seven trips to teams outside of the bottom-eight this term.
Backing Stoke Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals at 2.05 has paid out in 14 of Stoke's 22 outings in 2020/21, including eight of the Potters' previous nine encounters, and repeating the same selection on Saturday holds plenty of appeal via the Same Game Multi, particularly as it's also proven profitable in seven of Bournemouth's 11 away days since relegation.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 73.00 pts
Returned: 77.72 pts
P/L: +4.72 pts