By 90Min
April 21, 2018

Stoke City host Burnley on Sunday, knowing that anything less than three points could all but mathematically spell the end of their time in the Premier League.

Whilst Stoke have endured a nightmarish season, Burnley are in dreamland, reaching heights they never thought possible. Sean Dyche has enhanced his already impressive reputation this season, guiding Burnley to seventh place.

With just two points separating the Clarets from Arsenal in sixth, they could be on for an even more impressive finish and will fancy their chances of closing the gap against their flailing hosts.


Form

Stoke have seen an upturn in performances since Paul Lambert took over, with impressive displays against Tottenham, Everton and Manchester City in their past three home games.

Ultimately though, they fell short at each opportunity, although the draw at West Ham last time out halted a run of four straight defeats for the Potters. Stoke need a lot more than just the odd point if they are to survive this season.

It’s just one win in 11 games for Lambert now, although prior to their recent poor run of form they had lost just once in his first six games. Stoke are desperate to get back to winning ways and need a strong end to the season, so will be targeting three points in this fixture.

Burnley are quite the contrary, starting off 2018 in the middle of an 11 game winless run, during which they lost key away games to Crystal Palace and Swansea, so they won’t be taking anything for granted.

They returned to winning ways against Everton, leading them on a run of five consecutive victories. That run was ended with against Chelsea by the aid of an unconventional mix up in their back line, resulting in a Kevin Long own goal.

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

There’s still plenty for Burnley to play for. Dyche and his team will be targeting three points and a strong finish to the season, which should lead to a good competitive fixture.


Previous Encounter

Right before Burnley began their run of 11 games without a victory they invited the Potters to Turf Moor. In the middle of a packed Christmas schedule, the game came sandwiched between two other fixtures in the space of seven days.

For Stoke, there was a grim overtone, as fan protests had been in the headlines all week following another humbling defeat against a top four side. Having lost 5-1 to Tottenham in one of their worst performances of the season, Stoke were hoping for a response.

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Overall it was a pretty dour affair, bogged down by the weather and the impact of fatigue on many of the players. The two rigid teams produced a cagey affair that looked certain to end as a 0-0 draw.

Ashley Barnes came off the bench late on to settle the contest in the dying embers of the game. A lofted through ball found Barnes in space, who tucked away neatly in the 89th minute for the only significant mark of quality throughout the game.


Team News

Charlie Adam returns from suspension, after a three-match ban for a straight red card against Everton. He could well drop straight into the team with Stoke currently short on options in the attacking midfield department.

Geoff Cameron could also return to the starting lineup having made room for a different formation against West Ham last time out. Choupo-Moting has missed the last three games for Stoke with an injury, with this fixture also likely to come too soon.

Burnley have been pretty lucky with injuries and suspensions this season, often naming a largely unchanged side. First team regulars Ben Mee and Scott Arfield were both ruled out of the clash with Chelsea however and are expected to miss this fixture too.

Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

Stoke old boy Jon Walters has not been so lucky, missing the majority of the season since his summer move to Turf Moor and is unlikely to return to his old stomping ground.


Predicted Lineups

Stoke City (3-4-3): Butland, Zouma, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Bauer, Allen, Ndiaye, Pieters, Shaqiri, Crouch, Diouf

Burnley (4-4-2): Pope, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Lennon, Cork, Hendrick, Gudmundsson, Vokes, Barnes


Prediction

Stoke have been knocking on the door for weeks but haven’t found their reward, with a mix of red cards, penalties and defensive errors costing them dearly. 

Goals have been a serious problem for them, they struggled to break down a leaky West Ham defence, so they are likely to face further problems against a resolute Burnley.

Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

The pressure is all off Burnley, and Barnes has found a rich vein of form as they look to pip Arsenal to sixth place.

Stoke know if they lose their hopes of staying up will take a massive blow, but a stadium in full voice and spirit might just carry them over the line here.

Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Burnley

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