It would be fair to say that this is certainly one of the less glamorous ties of FA Cup weekend, although some are still under the impression that it could be yet another clash that results in an upset. Rochdale have been involved in their fair share of scalps over the years and with Dale boasting the home advantage, their fans will be flocking in their droves to this game on Monday evening.
Regardless of how Rochdale perform in this tie, there’s no doubt that the club have still experienced a campaign to remember. It was only last term that they were playing in League Two, yet they have adapted to League One in superb fashion and now sit in 5th position. Keith Hill is the man behind their success and now in his second stint at Dale Park, he’s arguably the most successful manager they’ve ever had. To make matters even more enticing for the home crowd, the club’s form over the last few weeks is extremely promising. They ended December in somewhat sticky fashion, but they have collected three wins from three in 2015. This has included a victory over Nottingham Forest in the previous round of this competition – showing that they can more than hold their own against loftier opponents.
Whether or not they can replicate that success against a team like Stoke remains to be seen though. The Potters are regarded as one of the more resolute top flight outfits and it’s been another solid season for them, with the club currently positioned in 10th place. Just like their opponents their recent form has been promising as well, with Mark Hughes’ side losing just one of their last six in all competitions. Additionally, they are proving somewhat difficult to beat on the road, losing just one of their last four over the last couple of months.
As for team news, something that could hinder Rochdale’s chances significantly is the absence of Peter Vincenti. The striker is currently ranked as touch and go due to a knee problem and Keith Hill will leave it late before making a decision on him. In other news, there won’t be a place for Matty Lund, who has now been ruled out for the rest of the campaign due to a dislocated shoulder. Stoke on the other hand won’t be able to call upon the services of Ryan Shawcross, as he struggles with a groin injury. Jonathan Walters could be another absentee, with a back injury affecting him.
Even though Rochdale recorded a scalp in the last round, we just don’t think they’ll have similar luck against an outfit as professional as Stoke. The Potters are renowned for their “gritty” nature – and that’s exactly what will be needed from this cup tie. With that, our tip will be a 2-0 win for Mark Hughes’ side.