Stoke City v Southampton preview

Stoke City will be targeting a return to winning ways when Southampton visit the bet365 Stadium in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

Mark Hughes, who will oversee his 400th top-flight match when the Saints journey to Stoke-on-Trent, recently guided his side to wins over Watford and Burnley before coming unstuck on the road against Arsenal.

An inconsistent season has left them in 11th place with 19 points from 15 games, while Southampton are just one point and one place better off, in 10th.

Claude Puel's charges, who have had the added pressures and exertions of playing in the Europa League this season, come into this match having beaten Middlesbrough 1-0, but after their exit from Europa was sealed with a 1-1 draw against Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva last week.

Both managers are expecting a tough encounter, with Hughes revealing his side are short in defence with a number of injuries, as Puel lauds Stoke's attacking threat.

Ahead of this tie, Hughes told the club's official website: "We're a little bit stretched in defence at the moment. The guys who aren't in the team at the moment will be involved I am sure over the next few weeks but hopefully we wont get any more injuries."

Hughes added that he had been impressed with the Saints under Puel, who took over from Ronald Koeman in June.

"Southampton have had a decent enough start. It's always difficult when you change managers and the transition is longer when the manager comes from a different league.

"He's done well though and from the outside looking in Southampton always appoint well and recruit well. They have a good model there and have spent the money well that they've received for players in recent years."

Puel added: "It will be a strong game another time, against I think a very good team with great players.

"They have great offensive players with many possibilities for them like [Xherdan] Shaqiri, [Joe] Allen, [Jonathan] Walters or [Wilfried] Bony and [Marko] Arnautovic – it’s impressive.

"But we finished with a good second-half and a very good result in our last game and now it’s important to find a good regularity for the next game and to take all the points.

He added: "To win the last game to come back after a big disappointment in a European game shows the strong character of my team."

Stoke will be without Marc Muniesa (knee) and Glen Johnson (eye infection), while Ryan Shawcross and Jonathan Walters will be assessed ahead of the game.

Geoff Cameron, Jack Butland, Phil Bardsley and Stephen Ireland remain long-term casualties, while Ibi Afellay will continue his return to fitness with the under 23s.

For Southampton, Charlie Austin is sidelined (shoulder), as are Alex McCarthy and Matt Targett (hamstring), while Jeremy Pied remains a long way off his comeback. (ACL knee).

Comments