Don’t pot the Potters on home turf

CrouchStoke has been flying under the radar throughout the English Premier League season but the Potters are one of the form teams in the competition and they represent the weekend program’s best bet at odds of 2.15 with Betway.

With seven English Premier League matches remaining, Stoke has all but guaranteed that it will remain among the elite, something that many people thought would not happen once Tony Pulis left the Britannia Stadium and Mark Hughes came in. Stoke has lost some of its physical edge under Hughes but the former Manchester United star known as Sparky has got the Potters playing football that is easier on the eye.

Stoke is 10th on the English Premier League ladder, 12 points clear of the relegation zone, largely thanks to its impressive home record of seven wins, six draws and two losses. No side lower than fifth-placed Everton has lost fewer home matches than Stoke, who reverses have come in games against Liverpool and Manchester United. Stoke has beaten Chelsea and Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium and drawn with Everton and Manchester City. That is impressive.

Furthermore, Stoke is one of the English Premier League’s form team having won three of its last four games, including a last-start 4-1 away victory over Aston Villa. Even Stoke’s recent draws and losses have been creditable since there is no shame in drawing 2-2 at Southampton or losing 0-1 at Manchester City. One has to go back to the end of December for the last time that Stoke performed well below market expectations when it lost 0-3 to Tottenham in London.

Hull is Stoke’s English Premier League visitor on Saturday. Hull’s divisional away record is three wins, two draws and 10 losses, with its victories occurring versus Cardiff, Newcastle and Sunderland and its draws happening against Swansea and West Bromwich. All bar Newcastle are below Stoke on the ladder and Hull’s win at St James’s Park was one of those crazy matches in which it edged a five-goal thriller.

The reverse English Premier League fixture between Stoke and Hull ended goalless on Humberside but it was not for the want of trying, particularly by the Potters. Stoke had more shots than Hull and it was unlucky not to take all three points after controlling the game after the interval.

Swansea versus Norwich is far from a marquee English Premier League clash but it throws up a good both-sides-to-score bet at odds of 1.95 with William Hill. The reverse fixture ended 1-1 and one would not be surprised to see both Swansea and Norwich get on the scoresheet at the Liberty Stadium.

Garry Monk is feeling the heat as Swansea slides closer and closer to the English Premier League trap door. Swansea has not won any of its nine matches across all competitions since celebrating a 3-0 home derby victory over Cardiff. However, both teams have scored in eight of those games, with Swansea continuing to play open, attractive football under its rookie manager, who is a genuine Swans legend.

One thought about suggesting Swansea at odds of 1.80 with Ladbrokes to beat Norwich because, without wishing to be unkind, the Canaries are ghastly away from Carrow Road. But odds on about a side without a win in nine matches is not an attractive proposition so one’s preference is for both teams to rustle the old onion bag in a real relegation scrap.

Finally, Chelsea is interesting at odds of 2.38 with Sky Bet to beat Crystal Palace to nil in the English Premier League derby at Selhurst Park. Like Swansea, Crystal Palace is heading in the wrong direction at the wrong time, accruing just two points from its last five top-flight games and scoring only one goal in that time. Chelsea’s defence is the stingiest in the division and everyone knows that Blues boss Jose Mourinho does not care by what scoreline his side wins so long as it collects another three championship points.

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