Stoke City host Southampton tomorrow evening as they look to put Saturday’s defeat away at The Emirates out of their mind amidst a tough December period.
Stoke City vs Southampton
Date: Wednesday 14th December 2016
Venue: bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-trent
Competition: Premier League
Referee: Mr. A Taylor
Last time they met: Stoke 1-2 Southampton
Latest betting odds (bet365):
Our prediction: Stoke to win, and BTTS: 6/1
Long-shot: Giannelli Imbula to score anytime, and The Potters to win 3-1 – 100/1
Stoke City return to the bet365 Stadium after defeat away at Arsenal on Saturday looking for a return to winning ways. Stoke had previously only lost one of their last nine in the Premier League before Saturday, and with some seriously tough fixtures ahead in the coming weeks, Hughes will feel that tomorrow will be a vital time to get all three points.
Hughes is sweating on the fitness of his defenders Marc Muniesa, who’s got a slight knock from Saturday, and Glen Johnson who’s having eye problems at the moment.
One positive for Hughes, however, on the eve of his 400th game in charge in the Premier League is the return of fitness from skipper Ryan Shawcross. The former England international had previously missed the last three games with a calf injury, but Hughes hopes that he will have his captain at his disposal tomorrow night.
Wilfried Bony is expected to get a recall tomorrow as Stoke are struggling to find a striker capable of hitting the net constantly, and Bony’s absence of late may have spurred the striker to show Hughes what he has to offer for Stoke.
What the manager has said [BBC Sport]:
MH: “To get 400 games under my belt, and with the management team I’ve got, is a lot of experience which is invaluable. You can’t replace that.
“There’s not too much I haven’t seen or experienced, but it never stops.
“You are trying to look ahead and pre-empt things and, if you can do that and with the experience we’ve got because you recognise the signs, that can help you and how you manage the group.”
Stoke City Predicted XI:
Grant; Shawcross, M.Indi, Muniesa; Diouf, Imbula, Whelan, Pieters; Arnaautovic, Shaqiri, Bony
MATCH FACTS [BBC Sport]
- Stoke have won just one of their previous four Premier League home games against Southampton, and only three of their last 14 in all competitions.
- Southampton have scored in each of those 14 visits to Stoke since a 1-0 defeat in the old Division Two in August 1977.
- Stoke suffered only their second league defeat in 10 games at Arsenal on Saturday (W5, D3, L2).
- The Potters have won three of their last four Premier League fixtures at the Bet365 Stadium, as many as in their previous 12 matches at home.
- They have only failed to score in one of their last 11 league matches: the 1-0 home defeat by Bournemouth.
- Mark Hughes will become the sixth manager to take charge of 400 Premier League matches. His record is 144 wins, 107 draws and 148 defeats.
- Saints have only won one of their seven Premier League away games this season, and none of the last four (W1, D2, L4).
- They have failed to score before half time in 10 of their 15 league matches; only Hull and Sunderland, with 12 goalless opening periods each, have fared worse prior to the midweek round of fixtures.
- However, Southampton have only allowed their opponents 37 shots on target in the Premier League this season, fewer than any other side.
- Their record of six clean sheets is only bettered by leaders Chelsea, with eight.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for The Saints. Just a week ago they were gearing up to face Hapoel Be’er Sheva ahead a crunch game in the Europa League. Fast forward eight days and Southampton find themselves out of the competition after only drawing with the Israeli team 1-1.
They were able to find a return to winning ways in the Premier League, though, as they defeated Middlesbrough narrowly on Sunday thanks to a stunning strike from club record signing Sofiane Boufal.
The Saints are without their top-scorer tomorrow, as Charlie Austin is set to miss the next four months with a shoulder injury, paving the way for pacy striker Shane Long to prove his worth to Claude Puel.
Matt Targett and Alex McCarthy are both unavailable for Southampton tomorrow.
Puel will hope Boufal and Long’s pace will prove key against a notoriously slow Stoke defence, and now that they are out of the Europa League, Southampton will be desperate to get back into the competition, as will their opponents tomorrow, Stoke City.
What the manager has said:
CP: “We finished with a very good result in our last game [against Middlesbrough] and now it’s important to find a good regularity for the next game and to take all the points.
“To win the last game after a big disappointment in a European game shows the strong character of my team.
“To continue this work and to stay now in the first part of the table is very important for us.”
Southampton Predicted XI:
Forster; Martina, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand; Clasie, Romeu, Ward-Prowse; Boufal, Long, Tadic.