On the back of another spirited performance which ultimately resulted in no points, Thomas Frank will have mixed feeling regarding the current state of play at Brentford.
Although the Dane would have undoubtedly taken 12 points from nine Premier League matches before the start of the season, there is a feeling of what could have been after narrow defeats to Chelsea and Leicester City.
On the plus side, the Bees remain eight points clear of the relegation zone, another scenario which would have left Frank more than satisfied had it been guaranteed at the beginning of August.
While Brentford are effectively stuck between ambitions where the rest of the campaign is concerned, they will continue to view the EFL Cup as a competition to get fringe members up to speed.
Home ties with Forest Green Rovers and Oldham Athletic have proven ideal, the London outfit netting 10 goals across those two meetings with League Two opposition.
Stoke will provide a step up in class, despite the Potters currently experiencing their first difficult spell in the Championship this season.
Defeats to Sheffield United, Bournemouth and Millwall – all by one-goal margins – have left Michael O’Neill’s men down in ninth position in the standings.
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The bizarre occurrence of seven teams all being locked on the same points makes matter look worse than they actually are, but there is no doubt that Stoke need to find a second wind over the coming weeks.
Like his opposite number, O’Neill will use this fixture to rotate his squad, potentially handing a first start in more than 10 months to highly-regarded Tyrese Campbell.
Stoke hold the remarkable record of never losing a home fixture to Brentford in their entire history, a run which started in 1936 and has lasted 14 matches