Stoke City will be looking to continue their impressive start under new manager Mark Hughes when they welcome Norwich City to the Britannia on Sunday afternoon.
Hughes' Stoke (2-1-2) are attempting to shift away from the direct playing style of former manager Tony Pulis, despite that style gaining the club promotion and securing their top-flight status. The change seems to be working, and a win over Norwich on Sunday would give the club their best ever points haul after six games since they gained promotion to the Premier League in 2008.
"I wasn't aware of that stat, but it is something to aim for and hopefully we can go out there, take the game to Norwich and get the three points on the board," said Hughes in his pre-match press conference. "We can draw a lot of encouragement from what the players have done so far, because they have taken a good amount of points from five very difficult opening fixtures. Not only that, but we have performed well and can count ourselves unfortunate not to have accumulated more points.
"Even at Arsenal last weekend I thought we matched them. Obviously, we were disappointed to have given them three goals from set-pieces, but in terms of ball retention and getting into dangerous positions we had the better of that, particularly in the second half. We want to continue what we did on Sunday, and I am sure that if we can do that then we will win the game. We certainly have the quality and talent to get the three points, that is for sure."
Norwich (1-1-3) spent heavily over the summer, but have won just one of their opening five games. However, manager Chris Hughton isn't getting too concerned at such an early stage of the season, particularly after the spirit his players showed in coming from two goals down to beat Watford 3-2 in the League Cup on Tuesday night.
"We would want to be better placed than where we are, but we also have to realise that we're just five games into a new season and there are five teams who are only one point better off than we are," said Hughton ahead of the trip to Stoke. "It's not a time or stage to panic. You have to stay calm through this period, and have the belief and the belief in the abilities of the team. We're very early in the season to be making judgements.
"We'll take a fabulous support away from home, as we always do, and we've got to make sure that we're very much in the game."
Stoke have injury doubts over Matthew Etherington (whiplash), Erik Pieters (calf) and Jamie Ness (hip), while Norwich have concerns over Ricky van Wolfswinkel (ankle), Sebastien Bassong (hamstring) and Elliott Bennett (knee).
Honours were even between these sides last season, with both winning 1-0 at home. A Charlie Adam strike won this fixture and Norwich did not manage a single shot on target in the game.
The Potters have won four of their last six meetings with Norwich and the Canaries have only managed three goals in those six matches. Neither side has scored more than once in any of the last five meetings between the clubs.
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