Both Swansea and Stoke are amongst the early Championship front-runners and Mark O'Haire is anticipating a close contest when the duo locks horns on Tuesday night...
"Only three ever-present Championship clubs have earned more points than Stoke 3.2011/5 since Michael O’Neill’s appointment"
Swansea v Stoke
Tuesday October 27, 19:45
Swansea irked by late drama
Swansea were denied a fourth win of the campaign on Saturday as a controversial late penalty allowed Bristol City to pinch a 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate. The stalemate stretched the Swans' unbeaten streak on the road to 10 games but head coach Steve Cooper was frustrated by the referees performance, making his feelings known post-match.
Jamal Lowe had fired Swansea into the lead on 51 minutes with what was his second league goal of the campaign. However, referee Oliver Langford deemed that Connor Roberts had brought down Antoine Semenyo in the 83rd minute, allowing Bristol City to level from the spot. Cooper said, "For a decision to be made like that - it's hard to keep my mouth shut".
After a below par performance against Coventry in the club's previous outing, Cooper made just one change to his starting XI for the trip over the Severnside Bridge. Jay Fulton was handed his first league start of the season, with Viktor Gyokeres dropping to the bench. Kasey Palmer is available again after being ineligible at the weekend against his parent club.
Stoke take Bees apart
Stoke held off a late Brentford rally to extend their unbeaten run to seven games across all competitions with a 3-2 triumph at the bet365 Stadium. The Potters had seemed set for a serene victory on the hour mark when Tyrese Campbell added to first-half goals from Steven Fletcher and James McClean to put City firmly in control of proceedings.
But the ante-post favourites battled back with two goals in the final 20 minutes to set-up a nervous finale for Michael O'Neill's men. Stoke almost allowed the Bees an unthinkable equaliser at the death when Henrik Dalsgaard's header drifted wide but in truth, the Potters deserved top honours with Campbell and McClean producing virtuoso displays for the hosts.
O'Neill was chuffed with his team's efforts, saying: "It's a very good three points but we made it a bit more difficult for ourselves. It's a poor mistake for the second goal but there's a lot of positives for us. We handled the game excellently and always looked a threat. Our front three were terrific." Jordan Thompson and Sam Clucas are doubtful for Tuesday.
Well-matched pair at the Liberty
Stoke have enjoyed the upper-hand over Swansea this century, earning W10-D2-L4 in head-to-head battles that straddle both the Premier League and Championship. The Potters completed the league double over the Swans last term and the Welsh hosts have been turned over in three of their most recent five when welcoming Stoke to the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea 2.466/4 were beaten in the play-offs last term but came flying out of the traps this season, earning 10 points from their first four outings (W3-D1-L0). Steve Cooper's side have since managed only W0-D2-L1 from their following three encounters, although performance data suggests the hosts have been unfortunate not to have more points on the board.
Only three ever-present Championship clubs have earned more points than Stoke 3.2011/5 since Michael O'Neill's appointment. The Potters have averaged 1.58 points per-game, although their road record in that sample isn't quite so formidable (W6-D5-L8). Even so, the visitors have already collected seven points at Luton (2-0), Preston (1-0) and Millwall (0-0).
Stalemate stands out
Goals have tended to be in short supply at the Liberty Stadium since lockdown in March. Following the restart last term, as well as the opening stanza of the 2020/21 season, have seen just 12 goals scored in Swansea's seven matches as hosts. Three of those fixtures featured three goals exactly, whilst four failed to produce more than a solitary strike.
Stoke have certainly stiffened up since Michael O'Neill's arrival, recording 13 shutouts across his 38-game stint - that return includes three clean sheets in the Potters' first three away days this term. Overall, five of the guests' opening seven outings have paid out for Under 2.5 Goals 1.684/6 backers, although a repeat is too short to support this midweek.
With little to choose between the two well set-up sides, it might be worth keeping supporting the draw and Under 2.5 Goals at 3.50 via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market. We'll be paid out should the showdown conclude 0-0 or 1-1 at the Liberty Stadium, a winner in five of the duos collecting 14 fixtures so far this season,
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 22.00 pts
Returned: 27.58 pts
P/L: +5.58 pts