TEAMtalk Insider: Potters Predictions

03 March 2009 06:42
The TEAMtalk office has been split all season over whether Stoke can compete in the Premier League this season so we decided to put our money where our mouths are and get our predictions down in writing. Our Editor Simon Wilkes is confidently predicting the Potters will finish bottom but his Deputy James Marshment thinks they'll just survive while our Insider Mark Holmes, a Stoke season ticket holder, reckons mid-table security beckons. We've drafted in another Stokie, James Knowles, to give his views each week and we're also speaking to an opposition fan each week to see how they get on predicting the Potters' results against their side. Stoke travelled to Aston Villa on Sunday and, for the second game running, late drama saw points won and lost by our tipsters. Deputy Editor James thought he was on for maximum points when Villa went 2-0 ahead - he had predicted 3-0 - while both him and our Editor Simon must have thought they were at least in for a point when the hosts took a lead into the dying minutes. However Stoke scored twice in the last few minutes to rescue a precious point in the Premier League and a precious point in the Prediction League for Stokies Mark and James and also the 'Opposition' who are now joint second in the table after Villa fan Dave Goodban went for a draw. Simon's lead at the top remains three points. The table, based on a point for a correct result and two for a correct scoreline, now reads: Simon Wilkes 18, James Marshment 15, Opposition 15, Mark Holmes 12, James Knowles 7. Stoke v Bolton Match Facts Stoke came from 2-0 down to claim a terrific 2-2 draw at Aston Villa on Sunday but Bolton enjoyed an equally good result as they edged out Newcastle 1-0 at the Reebok Stadium. The Trotters moved into the top half of the Premier League with their third win in four games, while Stoke have a win, a defeat and two draws from their last four outings. They are also unbeaten in three at the Britannia Stadium and a win there on Wednesday night would almost certainly take them clear of the relegation zone. Bolton on the other hand could rise to eighth. However, Wanderers have no win in six away games and have won just 12 of their 39 clashes on Potters turf. Jamie Pollock and John McGinley scored on their one and only visit to the Britannia Stadium, though, to hand them a 2-1 victory. Overall Bolton have 29 wins to Stoke's 27 in league games between the sides, with one of them coming on the first day of the current season when Tony Pulis' had their eyes opened to the Premier League with a 3-1 defeat. Predictions Mark Holmes (TEAMtalk's Insider): My boss Simon has finally given up on the Baggies so he's wasting all his energy praying we'll go down with them now. Of course I've thought all season we'd be ok and I stand by my prediction of a finish of 15th or higher. We'll probably rise even futher up than that with a win against Bolton but I certainly don't expect it to be easy against a side that are as well-drilled, organised and committed as we are. It's likely to be another close game and a betting man will go for 1-0, 0-0 or 0-1. But our boys are absolutely buzzing after coming from behind at Villa and I reckon we could finally turn a bit of confidence into a comfortable (by our standards) win. Super James Beattie is a good bet to score and I fancy Ricardo Fuller to come off the bench and settle things. 2-0, 14th place and another nail in the coffin for all those that wrote us off! I hope. Simon Wilkes (TEAMtalk Editor): First of all I'll freely admit to being impressed - and gutted - by Stoke's storming comeback at Villa Park, but to see Homzy grinning like a Cheshire cat when I got in to TEAMtalk Towers on Monday seemed a slight over-reaction considering other results meant they dropped to second-from-bottom in the table. I'm close to waving the white flag with my beloved Baggies but Stoke will be coming down with us, as they're probably better than Boro, but that's about it so will definitely finish in the bottom three. Now to the visit of the Trotters to the Brit.some neutrals might see this more as a boxing match, but both teams now play with a lot more creativity than they're given credit for so it might be a good game, especially with the likes of Beattie, Whelan, Taylor and Elmander on the pitch. I think Beattie has been a great January signing and will continue his goal-scoring run on Wednesday night - but Bolton are pretty handy on the road so I'm going for a 1-1 draw. James Marshment (TEAMtalk Deputy Editor): Fair play to Stoke on Sunday, coming back from the death like that at Villa - one of the best teams in the country - showed real fighting quality. It's points like those which could make all the difference at the end of the season when the relegation places are dished out. I'm glad Glenn Whelan is getting games as I think he's the one genuine quality footballer (and I mean that in terms of technical ability) that Stoke have and I knew, given games, he would get goals. It's Bolton next for Stoke and although the Trotters are in good form and have risen into the top half of the table, I definitely can't see them going to The Brit and winning. But I think Stoke may need to stay patient if they want maximum reward from this game - but I'll tip them to get it, just. 1-0. James Knowles (Stoke season ticket holder): I'm still on a high after Sunday's game at Villa and really hoping we can follow it up against Bolton as most of our relegation rivals have got far tougher games. We haven't won a game by more than one goal for over a year, though, so I'm not expecting us to turn Bolton over, particularly considering they can stand up to our physical style. Pulis is bound to show them plenty of respect with his line-up too so I reckon we could win this one with another late goal - and James Beattie is the obvious bet to get it. And what the opposition think (Tim Dougill - Bolton fan): Stoke got a well deserved draw at Aston Villa at the weekend but it was partly down to the arrogance of the Villa players and I don't believe this will happen against us. We're still not safe from the drop, but are also in contention for Europe as well and this madness and uncertainty of future will have our players focused. We've had two good home results on the trott (pun intended) and, although Stoke are a tough team to break down, we are a team that are just as physical as they are. I'm going to the Britannia and I don't expect to see a pretty game of football but I think Bolton will edge Stoke on class and we'll win 2-1.

Source: Team_Talk