Stoke City will be embroiled in a surprise battle of equals, at least according to the Premier League table, when Sunderland come calling at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday. These two teams are stuck at the bottom of the table with a solitary point separating Sunderland (2) from Stoke (3).
The two clubs in question started their campaign with drastically different goals and while Sunderland have followed the script of many, Stoke’s present form has taken people by surprise this season.
But tomorrow both the teams will be going into the match hoping to secure the maximum points, as nothing less will be of much value in matches like these and we might actually see an open contest between the two defensively suspect sides.
We take a brief look at the 3 key battles within the game which has the potential to alter the outcome of the match.
JERMAIN DEFOE VS RYAN SHAWCROSS
Sunderland’s wafer-thin attacking department has been held together by Defoe and he is at an age where most players would demand the luxury to put their feet up once in a while, but the former Tottenham Hotspur man is seemingly built of sterner stuff. He has already scored 4 goals and will once again be the sole outlet the Black Cats would be pinning their hopes on. He will come up against Shawcross, who is slowly starting to gel with Bruno Martins Indi and the duo will look to keep Defoe quiet.
JOE ALLEN VS JACK RODWELL
Both of them previously played for Liverpool and Manchester City respectively but have since moved for regular game time. Joe Alen has flourished in an advanced role recently and has scored a couple of massively important goals for his side.
His under-appreciated attacking threat enables him to pop up in dangerous areas and hurt the opposition. Multiple injuries will give Rodwell an opportunity to stake his claim on a place in the side and what better way than to keep the Welsh Xavi in a box.
JOHN O’SHEA VS WILFRIED BONY
The Sunderland captain has returned to the heart of the defence after a spell on the sidelines. He has come at a time when Moyes desperately needs leaders on the pitch. And one of the former Manchester United player’s first job will be to keep the big Ivorian quiet. Granted, Bony hasn’t fired since his loan move, but he has the capability to lift this Stoke team with his goals and Sunderland would hope O’Shea can keep the player quiet for another game.