Premier League preview: Stoke City v Southampton
By Football News
Stoke City will hope to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games when they host Southampton ahead of a tough period for the home team.
Forward pair Jonathan Walters and Kenwyne Jones will head into the clash with Southampton with plenty of confidence after they almost single-handedly destroyed Liverpool 3-1 on Boxing Day.
Walters scored twice, with the second set up by Jones, while the Trinidad and Tobago international striker knocked in Stoke's other goal as Tony Pulis' team picked up their fifth win in their nine-match unbeaten streak.
Stoke have moved up to eighth in the English Premier League but with games against Manchester City, Chelsea, Swansea to come after the visit of Southampton, a win on Saturday will be crucial to stay as high on the table as possible over the next month.
Southampton have the fifth-worst defence - statistically - in the Premier League this season and while Stoke are not prolific in front of goal, Pulis' players should be confident they can break open the visitors' back four on Saturday.
And going on past results, there should be plenty of goals at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke and Southampton last played each other in the Championship in February 2008 with the former winning 3-2 at home.
In the other fixture of the 2007/08 season, Southampton won by the same margin on their home turf.
Southampton will head to the Britannia with one loss and a draw in their two matches during the busy festive period.
The promoted club lost to Sunderland 1-0 before claiming a 1-1 draw away to Fulham on Boxing Day with Rickie Lambert scoring from the spot for Southampton.
Lambert will be one of the main scoring options for Southampton, having hit the back of the net seven times this season, but manager Nigel Adkins will need to preach patience and precision ahead of the trip to Stoke, as Pulis' side have the best defensive record in the Premier League after 19 matches.
Adkins should have a full team to choose from apart from Adam Lallana, as the Southampton captain continues to struggle with a knee injury.
For Stoke, Pulis may have Michael Owen available, although the striker is unlikely to be brought into the starting line-up after Walters and Jones' impressive performance against Liverpool.