Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stoke visits Eastlands

Stoke City visits Eastlands this afternoon in an intriguing match-up. Recently promoted, Stoke is having some problems adjusting the Premier League and sit third from the bottom of the table, partially through the grace of the extraordinary ineptitude of the Juande Ramos Tottenham era. That situation will change shortly as the Hot Spurs loyal can count on new-man in-town Harry Redknapp getting the job done. That of-course doesn't bode well for those on the bottom of the table and Stoke will need to pull up performance quickly or find their visit to the Premier League a short one. However in defense of Stoke they have proven to be a very good club at home but simply have issues on the road. Should they solve that problem they are capable of climbing the table.

The injury situation for this match is fairly simple as Stoke is fully-fit and Craig Hughes is expecting Micah Richards to pass a pre-match fitness test. The only absentee for City is Pablo Zabaleta who is still under suspension.

Mark Hughes is wary of the squad knowing that they have the ability once they move past the "away match" jitters:

"They're doing exceptionally well. They're a big, strong side and they play to their strengths, and you have to match that.

"Getting the ball into the box early with crosses and throw-ins and set-plays is effective and you have to be able to stand up and be counted, and that's what we'll have to do.

"What we have to do is make sure we're very creative, as we have been all year, but make sure we keep the back door shut and stand up to the challenge. It'll be a hard afternoon for us."