Stoke represent supreme value in the top midlands club stakes

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Approximately none of the footballing world would have seen Stoke’s victory over Chelsea coming at the weekend but, quietly, the Potters are building a case to be the top midlands club this season.

Mark Hughes’ side have only lost once in their last eight Premier League games and the toppling of Jose Mourinho’s team saw them move into Aston Villa’s slipstream, just two points behind their Villa Park rivals in 12th.

It therefore represents terrific value to have a punt on Peter Crouch and co reigning their region come the end of the campaign, at plump odds of 3/1.

Paul Lambert’s Villans lead the betting at an odds-on price of 3/4 that they will be the kings of the country’s middle-band, but considering their slim lead over Hughes’ men and their defeat to lowly Fulham last time out, they should be shirked when considering the punting options.

Somewhat more surprisingly, West Brom are the 5/2 second favourites to take the midlands crown, despite actually trailing the trio with 15 points and enduring a five-game league winless streak, of which the last three have been lost.

Aiding Stoke’s argument for regional royalty is their home form, with the Britannia Stadium baring witness to just one defeat so far this term. Three undefeated games against top-half challengers Chelsea, Man City and Southampton go a long way to suggesting that most of the division will struggle to better the Potters in their own yard and, with regular points being collected there, a table that sees the red and white shirted side lead their two midlands rival isn’t completely implausible.

Stoke’s next match sees them travel to Hull but, upon the final whistle at the KC Stadium, it is Villa who’ll be lined up in the Stoke crosshairs.

Should Hughes mastermind a victory in that local derby then the 3/1 price that’s currently available will be a distant memory, so it’s strongly advised that Ladbrokes customers take the value while it’s on offer.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.