Stoke City will welcome high-flying Southampton to the Britannia Stadium this weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton (5-3-1) have been the surprise package of the season, with only Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal above them in the table going into the latest round of matches. A 2-0 victory over Fulham last weekend made it four wins in five for the Saints, but their manager isn't getting carried away.
"It's clear that when you win you get a good atmosphere within the team and the club which is a very good thing, but we need to stay grounded and keep on training hard and looking ahead to the next game," said Pochettino. "We expect a very tough and physical game at Stoke. It's going to be very difficult and tough.
"On average they have the tallest team in the league, so I think they still have some aspects from when Tony Pulis was manager, but there some new aspects that Mark Hughes has introduced to the team and I think that it's a team which over 90 minutes is able to do two different styles. They can go for the long ball but also the short one so, overall, we expect a very tough encounter."
Stoke City (2-2-5) have struggled for results under new manager Hughes, and their tally of six goals scored in nine games is the joint lowest in the league. However, midfielder Charlie Adam is confident that the results - and goals - will come once the players fully adapt to their new style.
"We have been playing well, but the results haven't been great," admitted Adam. "We have a tough game against Southampton, who are flying high, but they know they won't be coming to the Britannia for a soft game.
"It's about getting points for us. We are playing well, but small details change games in the Premier League. If we can change that, we can start climbing the table. We look over the games and we know what we have to do well in. It would be a worry if we weren't creating chances, but we are."
Stoke have injury concerns over centre-back Robert Huth (ankle), while Southampton have doubts over Steven Davis (knee), Guly do Prado (knee) and star summer signing Pablo Osvaldo.
Last season's meetings between these sides were their first in the Premier League, and both ended in draws. A 90th minute equaliser earned Stoke a point in a 3-3 at the Britannia, while Rickie Lambert secured a 1-1 draw at St Mary's with a second-half strike.
Stoke are without a win in six and have failed to score in three of their last four. 2013 has not been a good year for the Potters. They have managed just five wins in 27 contests, scoring just 19 goals in that time.
Southampton are unbeaten in six and have conceded just once in that time. The Saints are one clean-sheet away from matching their tally from the whole of last season (seven). Southampton (128) and Stoke (122) have committed the most fouls in the Premier League since the start of the campaign.
- Sports & Recreation
- Stoke City
- Mauricio Pochettino