Martin O’Neill asked for patience from supporters after taking over from Steve Bruce, although the northern Irishman has had an instant effect at the Wearside club and the fans will now feel confident they can catch high-flying Newcastle United.
A trip to the Britannia Stadium might apparently be daunting according to the media although the plain truth is that Stoke are not bankers at home this season and they have obliged with a maximum haul on just four occasions.
Since beating Tottenham in December, the Potters have failed to beat Villa, Wigan and West Brom at the Brit, something that must concern Tony Pulis and Sunderland have to be the value bet at 13/5 (Bet Victor – £50 free bets) considering the fine run of form that they are enjoying.
O’Neill might not have made his team into the finished article yet, although the only defeats they have suffered under his regime have been narrow losses against Spurs and Chelsea, something which makes the 6/4 on the draw no bet market (Ladbrokes bookmaker) an attractive proposition.
Stephane Sessegnon has hit a purple patch in front of goal and the Benin midfielder found the net against the Canaries to suggest he could be worth a First Goalscorer bet in this contest at odds of 8/1 (Blue Square free bet). Sebastian Larsson is also a danger man from set pieces and could be worth a nibble at 14/1.
Perhaps this is the match where Stoke finally spring into life at the Britannia, somewhere which is always a cauldron of noise for the visiting team and the Staffordshire team are a 5/4 chance (Boylesports free bets) to claim all three points.
Pulis will be looking for his team to start keeping clean sheets at home and we can see this encounter being a cagey one, with odds of 4/5 available about Under 2.5 Goals.