STOKE CITY SET TO HOST SOUTHAMPTOM

Premier League side Stoke City is se to host Southampton on Wednesday.

Mark Hughes men face a stern test after recent improvements in the team’s performance. City started slowly but picked up the pace. They had just one victory in 14 games in the league but soon changed. They have won five of their last eight games. The Saints would meet a resolute side that has won their last three of four home games when they visit.

After ten games in the league, City conceded more than a goal when they lost to the Gunners 3-1. Also Southampton have struggled to net goals with their tally of 14 in 15 league games.

Hughes would face selection problems in light of the injury wave that hit the club. Jack Buland, Phil Bradsley, Geoff Cameron and Ibrahim Afellay are not poised to make a return to the team anytime soon. Marc Muniesa and Glen Johnson are not confirmed for the clash after knocks during the Arsenal game. However, Ryan Shawcross and Jonathan Walters could return but nothing is guaranteed for now.

One that is guaranteed is that Saints would be without star Charlie Austin as he has been ruled out for a minimum of three months due to shoulder injury he sustained during a European game. And of course, Jeremy Pied and Matt Targett remain sidelined with their long term injuries.

The game would be an important milestone for City manager Hughes who will be supervising his 400th Premier League game – only five other managers have such landmarks.

Claude Puel’s men face a tough one without Austin, and having won just one of seven league games away, the required confidence might be lacking. However, they remain favourites for a victory despite Stoke’s home advantage.

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