Preview: Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion

Preview: Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion will look to extend their unbeaten Championship record to 11 matches when they face Stoke City on Friday night.

However, the Potters head into the fixture at the bet365 Stadium sitting just four points adrift of their opponents in the standings.

On the back of three successive draws and going behind early to Queens Park Rangers, West Brom head coach Valerien Ismael faced the prospect of a difficult period in the dugout.

However, a dramatic comeback victory over the Hoops was followed by the demolition of Cardiff City on Tuesday evening, results which only strengthen the feeling that the Baggies will be difficult to stop this season.

Even with 20 goals to their name from 10 matches, Ismael will insist that his players need to be more clinical in the final third with none of this squad contributing more than four strikes.

Nevertheless, until a second-tier side show that they can overcome West Brom, they have the potential to become a juggernaut in the promotion race.

The biggest plus of the last two fixtures has been the form of Karlan Grant, who is finally beginning to justify the reported £15m fee which was shelled out for his services last October.

Stoke have had less luck with their centre forwards this campaign with none of their recognised frontmen netting more than twice in the Championship.

However, the versatile Nick Powell has returned from injury to prove his worth to this team, netting in games against Watford, Hull City and Preston North End respectively.

Michael O’Neill will not want to rely too heavily on the playmaker, particularly with the competition for places that he has created at the Potters.

There is also the hope that Tyrese Campbell will eventually feature alongside Powell in the final third now that he is closing in on a return from a serious knee injury.

That said, full focus will be on gaining a result on Friday night by any means necessary, a win being enough to move Stoke to within a point of their rivals.

Stoke City Championship form:
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Stoke City form (all competitions):
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West Bromwich Albion Championship form:
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We say: Stoke City 1-2 West Bromwich Albion
This has all the makings of a competitive fixture, one which Stoke will be confident of winning given their recent upturn in form. However, we cannot back against the visitors, who are showing that they have the potential to surge clear in the promotion race.

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