Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Monday February 8 2010
In the build up to Tuesdays game between Wigan Athletic and Stoke City at the DW Stadium Vital Latics and Vital Stoke met up for the now customary chat, brew and Hobnobs over at Vital Towers, meeting worbo this week is Vital Stoke editor Chris Baldwin, lets see how it all went:
worbo - Hi Chris, I hope all is well, good result on Saturday for you lot, 3-0 against Blackburn really cemented your mid-table place, no second season curse then, has it gone better than you expected or did you feel that you`d be fine once again?
Chris - Thanks worbo. Yes, a good result but I'm a born pessimist and won't be happy until we get another 12 points. I think most Stokies aren't too surprised that we're doing as well as last season - fans always expect the team to move on each season and some grumble that we should be even higher!
worbo - Rory Delap, that throw-in winds up the opposition supporters something terrible and at times Stoke get labeled a one trick team, being a City supporter how do you respond to that criticism and is it exciting every time you get a throw-in in the attacking half of the pitch?
Chris - We do what we need to do - any team should play to it's strengths. One criticism laid at the Delap throws is that he does it too often - I think he should vary it from time to time as that would catch teams out but there is no doubt that it scares the **** out of the opposition. But you underestimate us at your peril!
worbo - Matthew Etherington has been showing some good form of late, he looks quality on the ball and I read that Stoke have helped him out with some gambling debt that he had accumulated, the move away from London could have done him some good, I also read that he is being touted as a possible England player, what are your thoughts on this?
Chris - It was said when he joined a year ago that he needed to get away from the bright lights of London so he could kick his gambling habit. He was a breath of fresh air last season and has moved on this time around. He seems very settled and enjoying life in the not-so-bright-lights of Stoke. Capello has said that anyone could get into his squad if they're playing well - so why not?
worbo - I`ve got to ask, what did you think of Figueroa`s goal at the Britannia? Were you there? I saw on TV quite a few Stoke fans in the crowd applauding, what was the general reaction from the home supporters, as you can tell I thought it was a stunner.
Chris - Yes, I saw it! We all said at the time that it was a great opportunist goal. Let's put it this way - Delap has never turned his back on a free kick since!
worbo - Peter Reid has come into Stoke this season to help your manager Tony Pulis out, has he made a telling difference or is it much the same as least season?
Chris - It's always difficult for a fan to know exactly what the assistant manager does or how much he influences the team and the tactics as he's always in the background, but there's no doubt he's got bags of experience which can only help.
worbo - In the last transfer window we were quite busy, but the main characters that Roberto Martinez brought in are centre half Gary Caldwell from Celtic, forward Victor Moses from Crystal Palace and Marcelo Moreno the Bolivian striker from Shakhtar Donetsk, I`m really excited by the three of them and looking forward to a good second half of the season, did Stoke signed anyone in the window and do you feel that you`ve strengthened where it was needed?
Chris - Very quiet. Despite being linked with all and sundry and with money to spend we eventually just targeted a new keeper. David James was touted for a while and I was glad to see we didn't go for him in the end but got his number two - Asmir Begovic. He seems a great buy and will be a good challenge for Thomas Sorensen.
worbo - With just 40 miles of motorway and 45 minutes of travel time between the two clubs can we expect a few Stokies coming to the DW on Tuesday or like us are you poor travellers?
Chris - There's usually a good turn-out amongst the travelling Stokies but it's always more difficult for a midweek game.
worbo - I have already mentioned Rory Delap and Matthew Ellington, I also think Ricardo Fuller is a bit of a handful but for me Tuncay has that bit of class that can turn a game from nothing and I would put him as the player I fear most in your side, who would you say that we need to look out for?
Chris - I agree, Tunny will probably start on Tuesday with Fuller on the bench as Tony Pulis is tending to rotate Fuller and Tuncay alongside Mamady Sidibe. It took Tuncay awhile to settle but he now seems to be coming good and he never stops running. In defence, Ryan Shawcross will be a handful for your forwards but also watch out for him in your penalty area during corners and those incoming Delap missles.
worbo - Well that`s your danger men sorted out, we have one or two of our own as well, Hugo Rodallega is the Latics top scorer and always a threat but in Charles N`Zogbia we have a match winner, little Charlie has been in amazing form this past few months and in my opinion is our most creative player, who do you see as our danger man though Chris and why?
Chris - You've always got to look at the opposition's top scorer, but I'd fancy we'll also be keeping a very close eye on Maynor Figueroa after our last encounter and I gather he played well at Sunderland.
worbo - Its tight at the bottom this season and anyone in the bottom half could get dragged into a relegation fight, but I see it finishing with Pompey, Hull and Burnley in the bottom three, who are your tips to go down?
Chris - I fancy Pompey, Wolves and Hull for the drop. I can't see Portsmouth climbing out - it'll be a miracle if they avoid a 10 point deduction at best. The big question is what happens if they go straight into liquidation as all the points on their matches are then deducted. It's a toss-up whether it's Hull or Burnley but I can't see both going down.
worbo - Right prediction time, I am going for a 2-0 home win simply because you are poor travellers and we need the points more than you and I also think we are a better side, just been unlucky, whats your prediction Chris?
Chris -We may be dreadful at winning away but we're good at grinding out a point when we need to - like we did at your place last season and a week ago at Sunderland. We've only lost five on the road which is only bettered by those teams in the top seven. Question is - will it be 0-0 or 1-1? I'd go for 1-1 with Fuller scoring for us after coming on as a late sub.
worbo - thanks for dropping by Chris and good luck for the rest of the season, after Tuesday of course.
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Date:Monday February 8 2010
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