Stoke City-Swansea City Preview
While Stoke City are trying to extend their modest, but longest Premier League winning push of the season, Swansea City must find a way to end a lengthy winless stretch.
Visiting Stoke try to record a third consecutive victory while looking to send the Swans to their fifth consecutive match without a win Monday night.
Following a solid ninth-place finish in 2014-15, Stoke (2-3-3) went their first six games without a win before breaking through with a 2-1 home triumph over Bournemouth on Sept. 26. The Potters followed by winning 1-0 at Aston Villa, and come out of the international break quite confident.
"It's not about what you do during the first five or six games it's about looking at the season as a whole," manager Mark Hughes told the club's official website. "Come the end of May, and then people can determine how the season has gone.
"It's unfair to look at teams and label them as something they maybe aren't after a few weeks of the season."
Throw in last month's League Cup victory at Fulham, and Stoke have won three in a row.
"I say it every year but people tend to get a little bit too excited at this time of the season and look at the table and think that teams in specific positions will go on to finish in them come the end of the season, and more often than not that doesn't tend to be the case," Hughes added.
Looking to win back-to-back Premier League road contests for the first time since December 2011, the Potters will be without leading scorer Mame Diouf following the death of his mother.
"We are anticipating him arriving at some point early next week," Hughes said.
Marko Arnautovic recorded his second league goal during the Oct. 3 win over Villa, but has never scored in three games with Swansea (2-4-2).
After falling 2-0 at Liberty Stadium in May, the Potters are trying to avoid losing two in a row to the Swans for the first time. They might be in good position to do so considering Swansea are 0-2-2 since beating Manchester United on Aug. 30.
However, the Swans aren't ready to panic.
"We have dropped points, which is going to happen in the season, and there is still a long way to go but if we play our style of football we will be in the top half of the table," midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson told Swansea's official website.
The Swans are 2-2-0 at Liberty this season, and felt they took a step in the right direction while tying Tottenham Hotspur 2-all in their most recent Oct. 4 match.
"We have had a couple of performances below our standard, but we were much more like ourselves," manager Garry Monk said. "We just need to find that consistent level of performance."
Tied for the team lead with four goals, Andre Ayew snapped a three-match league scoring drought with a goal against Spurs.
Though Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross continues to progress in his recovery from back surgery, he will not be ready to make his season debut Monday.
"He still needs a bit more time so we will have to be wary with him," Hughes said. "Hopefully he will be ready to go in a couple of weeks or so."