Stoke City v Leyton Orient – Emirates FA Cup Third Round – Bet365 Stadium – Sunday (2pm) – Preview
It’s a tall order, but Peter Kitchen insisted that Leyton Orient shouldn’t view Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup third-round tie at Stoke City as a free hit.
The O’s head to the Potteries for their first third-round encounter in eight years and although they will start as the underdogs, they have nothing to lose and will be keen to spring a surprise.
“It might not be the glamour-tie that some O’s fans dreamed of, but it provides us with an opportunity against higher opposition,” Kitchen told Yellow Sport.
“The O’s will be backed by a sizable following and although the expectation points towards a home win, the pressure is all on a Stoke side that has lost its last two Championship outings, have found goals hard to come by and will be feeling the pressure, especially with one or two injuries hampering the squad further.
“Of course, we lost our last two in the league as well, while three have been lost to COVID. But we should have a fully fit and refreshed group, although match fitness is a concern.”
Kitchen continued: “While I’d imagine Stoke will rest one or two, I believe this is still a chance for the O’s players to enhance their own reputations in front of a big crowd. Kenny Jackett will demand that the team does themselves justice. It is vitally important that we produce a performance, making sure we give our all and don’t come off feeling that we could or should have done more.
“The break has provided us with a clean slate. We’ve had ample time to get most, if not all of the players virus-free whilst enabling several players to return to the squad from injuries and be in contention for selection.
“Jackett knows it’s going to be a hard-fought game and that we will come under a lot of pressure. He’ll have to get his tactics spot on if we are to progress further.
“We must play to our strengths. O’s have looked solid with three central defenders for most of the season. But we must get the wing-backs forward – especially, Theo Archibald, who will cause Stoke problems if he can take people on in the final third, while Harry Smith’s aerial power will provide a threat if we can get quality balls into the box. Again, these must be from wide forward positions and not just aimlessly punting high balls forward from too deep positions.
“It’s a 3-5-2 as opposed to a 5-3-2 for me. The latter can happen if you sit back and are over-cautious. We need to squeeze up from the back and be compact and well organised.
Kitch concluded: “With our recent form and lack of matches, it’s hard to know who will play and which O’s team will turn up? This is going to be a tough one and might be a bridge too far. But if we can stay in contention for as long as possible, the home crowd will become frustrated we might be able to take advantage and pinch it. Head says Stoke – Heart always Orient.”
Peter Kitchen’s prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Leyton Orient
Jeevesie’s prediction: Stoke City 2-0 Leyton Orient