Mark Hughes’ men host Sunderland on Saturday still in search of a much needed three points, as Stoke City look to build on their very impressive display at Old Trafford last time out.
Stoke City vs Sunderland
Competition: Premier League
Date: Saturday 15th October 2016
KO Time: 15:00GMT
Venue: bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
Latest betting odds (bet365):
Stoke City: 1/1
Our prediction: Stoke to win, and BTTS: 3/1
Long-shot: Marko Arnautovic to score anytime, and Stoke City to win 2-0 – 18/1
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Stoke City head into Saturday’s game against Sunderland hoping for their first win of the season as they face the only other side not to have won yet this campaign.
Coming off the back of two much improved performances, and another positive international outing for Hughes’ men, he will feel that Saturday is the ultimate opportunity to get their first victory ahead of some tantalising fixtures for the Potters over the next two months against teams in and around them.
Mark Hughes will be hoping man of the moment, Joe Allen is fit and ready after coming off for Wales last Thursday shortly after he opened proceedings with a thunderbolt in Vienna.
Hughes felt peeved with Wales, after he claimed that they perhaps over-worked him during the break.
“We would have given him an extra day’s rest but he trained with Wales and that’s probably compromised him a little bit so they have to be a little bit careful in that regard.
“We’ve just got to be a little bit careful with him; unfortunately he probably did a little bit too much with the Welsh squad.”
Although Allen is a doubt for Stoke, it’s expected he should make Saturday’s game, along with Xherdan Shaqiri who played twice for Switzerland during the break and returns to Stoke seemingly unscathed.
This comes off the back of unsettling rumours surfaced in the week from Shaqiri’s brother that he is refusing to rule out a move to Roma in January.
It is also expected that Mark Hughes will stick with the midfield duo of Glenn Whelan and Geoff Cameron after the latter’s international duty was cut short after USMNT boss Jürgen Klinsmann allowed his European based players to skip their friendly against New Zealand on Wednesday.
What the manager has said [via: Stoke City FC – YouTube]:
MH: “The spirit around the group is great and everybody is focused on what we need to do and everybody has come back in good heart, and were all pleased to see each other again and we need to focus on the game now on Saturday, and getting the job done.
“They’re (Sunderland) an away side, so they won’t be too expansive. They’ve got a little bit of pace on the break which they’ll aim to utilise, so we’ve got to be vigilant.”
Stoke City Predicted XI:
Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan; Arnautovic, Allen, Shaqiri; Bony.
Much like Stoke, Sunderland’s start to this campaign hasn’t been too great. With no win in seven, and currently sitting on two points, Sunderland’s hopes will have been boosted simply by the fact they’re playing against Stoke, who have only won one out of their last nine PL games against the Black Cats.
David Moyes’ decision to take over from Big Sam’s departure in the summer currently looks like another poor career choice for the Scotsman, who is widely tipped to be axed from his post, should results keep going against him.
Sunderland will be without a whole host of key players for the trip on Saturday, as Jan Kirchhoff, Lee Cattermole, Fabio Borini, Adnan Januzaj and Jason Denayer are all ruled out with injury.
If they are to move up the table, Sunderland need to find goals from different places in the team. It’ll be worrying to some fans that out of Sunderland’s six Premier League goals this season, only two players (Jermain Defoe, Patrick van Aanholt) have scored them.
The last two games in the Potteries have ended in draws, but I don’t think either side will be happy with that on Saturday. Both sides will view it as a must-win game and there’s a real ‘six-pointer’ feel to the game.
What the opposition has said:
“We were looking forward to getting the three points against West Brom, but we conceded when we were on top.
“It’s up to us to score in those situations and punish teams.”
Sunderland AFC Predicted XI:
Pickford; Manquillo, Kone, O’Shea, van Aanholt; Rodwell; Ndong, McNair, Khazri, Watmore; Defoe.