Stoke are at Blackburn Rovers tonight and then go to fellow relegation strugglers Luton Town on Saturday.
Both Luton and Huddersfield claimed the scalps of promotion-chasing rivals, ensuring that defeat for Stoke tonight will leave them teetering on the brink of the drop zone instead of pulling away to safety.
And just how crucial this late February round of games could prove to Stoke’s long-term future is revealed in the latest predicted final Championship table churned out by the Football Web Sites supercomputer.
Just a few days ago, it had the Potters surviving by the skin of their teeth come May. But all that has changed. And it is not good news.
According to the latest prediction, Stoke are heading for League One, finishing third from bottom just a point behind Luton. A positive result at Kenilworth Road this weekend is looking more and more crucial for the Potters.
PREDICTED FINAL TABLE
Football Web Sites say joining Stoke in the third tier will be Barnsley and Wigan, while tonight’s opponents Blackburn are predicted to claim a place in the play-offs along side Nottingham Forest, Brentford and Fulham.
That leaves West Brom as champions and Leeds United finally reclaiming their place in the top flight as the second automatically promoted team.
The supercomputer claims Stoke’s fate will be settled on the final day of the season when they are edged out 1-0 by Forest at the City Ground while Luton draw 1-1 at home with Blackburn. And that point proves key with Luton having a -35 goal differences compared to Stoke’s of just -16.
Leeds, meanwhile, are forecast to claim a 1-0 home win over Charlton on the last day to maintain their two-point buffer over Forest on their way to their Premier League return.
Of course, the Football Web Sites supercomputer has also spewed out the results of Stoke’s next two games – sadly, a predicted 1-0 reverse tonight and then a 2-1 loss at Luton come the weekend.
Luckily, football is not played on a computer… so hope is still alive and kicking for the Potters.