As a reward for reaching the FA Cup final, Stoke return to competitive action a touch earlier than normal as they tackle a Europa League qualifier against Hajduk Split and although the Potters might not quite be up to speed just yet in terms of match sharpness, they should have enough in reserve to chalk up a first leg success at the Britannia Stadium.
The visitors are technically competent and will be neat and tidy in terms of their passing but they are unlikely to enjoy the physical approach of Pulis’ side, who are 9/5 with Paddy Power when starting from a goal behind in the handicaps.
Perhaps a better bet at that price with the same firm however, is a goalless first half given that it could take the Potters some time to acclimatise to European football and shake off the summer’s ‘ring rust’.
Nevertheless, Stoke undoubtedly have the edge and should eventually get their noses in front, albeit after a far from memorable opening 45 minutes, so punters willing to take a risk could do worse than take on Ladbrokes’ 7/2 for a home win following an even first period.
Draw/Stoke in the HT/FT betting – 7/2 (Ladbrokes)