Bournemouth-Stoke City Preview
Stoke City entertain Bournemouth on Saturday still looking to secure their first Premier League win of the season.
The Potters (0-3-3) recorded their first win in all competitions on Tuesday night with a narrow 1-0 victory to eliminate Championship side Fulham from the League Cup.
Now Stoke boss Mark Hughes wants to back that win up with a first league triumph following a good night's work in London.
"We had a lot of control in the game, especially in the first half where we created a couple of good chances and more importantly took one of them," Hughes told the official club website. "I think we expected a little bit of a response in the second half from Fulham and we got that, more so in the last ten minutes when they threw everybody forward."
The importance of the shutout was not lost on Hughes given the Potters have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their six Premier League matches this season.Only Norwich City, Sunderland and Chelsea, perhaps remarkably, have allowed more goals than Stoke (9) in the Premier League this season.
"They (Fulham) put a number of balls into the box which we had to deal with and Shay (Given) came to the rescue as well a couple of times," said Hughes. "We could have also gone up the other end and really finished the game off but we missed a couple of chances.
"Overall, we're pleased with the result and the clean sheet was important for us, which will put in good heart for the next round and at the weekend as well."
The Potters have scored only five league goals and their misfiring offence will need all the defensive help they can get as only Liverpool, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion have netted fewer goals this season.
Indicative of Stoke's woes is that 56 percent of their shots have come from outside the box this season, the highest percentage in the league.
Only 20 percent of Stoke's passes this season have come in the final third, and only basement-dwellers Sunderland have a lower percentage of passes in the attacking third.
Opponents Bournemouth were able to celebrate a League Cup victory of their own on Tuesday after overcoming League One side Preston North End on penalties.
The Cherries (2-1-3) are looking for third consecutive win in all competitions after beating Sunderland 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium last weekend.
Having scouted Saturday's opponents extensively Cherries manager Eddie Howe believes Stoke's form belies their position.
"When I have reviewed Stoke's games I have been very impressed," Howe told the official club website. "They don't look like a team that haven't won yet."
Howe is determined to ensure the Potters' recovery won't start on Saturday.
"They are the kind of side that you will see in a few weeks and they will be in a very different position," he added. "But we don't need to worry about that. We know that if we are at our best levels we can beat anyone in this league - so it's down to us."
Howe will have to do without club captain Tommy Elphick (ankle) and Harry Arter (groin) for the match.The Potters are missing defender Ryan Shawcross with a back injury and forward Mame Biram Diouf is doubtful with a hamstring injury.
The sides are meeting for the first time since the 2003 FA Cup, when Stoke won 3-0 at home in the fourth round.
It will be the first league meeting between the sides since the 2001-02 season in the old third tier.
Saturday will mark the first ever top-flight meeting between Stoke and Bournemouth.