Blackburn vs Stoke predictions: Potters primed to pick off Rovers
- Blackburn have lost two of their last four home league games and failed to win in four
- Stoke have won two of their last four away league games
- Recommended Bet: Stoke Draw no bet
Only a point separates Blackburn and Stoke going into Saturday’s battle of Championship relegation scrappers at Ewood Park.
Rovers could have a new man in the dugout with ex-Stoke skipper John Eustace reportedly the favourite to replace Jon Dahl Tomasson, who left the club this week.
A run of one win in 11 has seen Blackburn slump towards the wrong end of the Championship table and their predicament makes Saturday’s clash a crucial one for both clubs prospects of staying up.
Similarly, Stoke require a boost after their 5-0 home hammering by leaders Leicester left them only four points above the drop zone.
It is hard to anticipate what sort of team or system Rovers will deploy during the managerial uncertainty that surrounds the club.
But the new broom should have midfielder John Buckley available for the first time since August after his comeback from injury for the Under-21s in midweek, having recently returned from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
John Fleck, who was an unused substitute in last weekend’s 2-1 home loss to Queens Park Rangers, could make his debut after arriving on loan from Sheffield United late in the January transfer window.
As for Stoke, Steven Schumacher could hand full debuts to deadline-day recruits Million Manhoef and Niall Ennis.
Ennis made his Potters bow as a half-time substitute in last weekend’s loss to Leicester and could now be asked to lead the line against the club where he played on loan until the end of last month.
Manhoef was unavailable for last Saturday's defeat while he was still waiting for a work permit, but the Dutch winger should have received the green light to come into the squad this time around.
Daniel Iversen will return in goal after being ineligible to face his parent club while right-back Junior Tchamadeu is available again after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations and dealing with a bout of illness.
Ki-Jana Hoever and Lynden Gooch are pushing to replace Jordan Thompson at left-back while Luke McNally, on loan from Burnley, has a chance to return in central defence.
Blackburn are winless in their last eight league games (D2, L6), their worst run since a nine-game run in December 2015 to February 2016.
Since the start of December, Rovers have picked up fewer points than any other Championship side (5) and have conceded the most goals in the division (27) in that time.
Steven Schumacher experienced his third straight defeat as a manager for the first time last Saturday in his 102nd league match in charge in the Football League.
Since a three-game winning run in October, Stoke have won just two of their last 16 Championship matches (D7 L7).
Both these former Premier League clubs have been in the doldrums of late, but whereas Blackburn still seem to lack direction, Stoke have taken action to arrest their decline.
The appointment of Schumacher — a manager who won almost 53 per-cent of his games at Plymouth — is a positive and the board backed him by adding some exciting signings in the transfer window.
There was little to like about the scoreline in last Saturday’s home loss to Leicester and plenty to improve upon in terms of performance too, but they can set up to play on the counter attack in this away game.
And, after the additions of pacy duo Manhoef and Ennis, that might suit Stoke’s personnel more as they seek to maintain a decent run of results on the road.
Blackburn have struggled to put points on the board anywhere of late and may not be helped if the atmosphere turns toxic at Ewood Park in the wake of Tomasson’s departure.
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