Sunderland - Stoke City Preview: The Potters eye third successive victory
Stoke City take on Sunderland on Saturday at 15:00 (GMT). (Image: VAVEL)

Stoke City travel to Sunderland on Saturday hoping to extend their impressive form.

Mark Hughes' side have won five of their last seven games to climb to 11th in the Premier League and within two points of sixth-placed West Ham United.

Head-to-head

The two sides first met on this weekend 124 years ago - 28 November 1891, when Sunderland won 3-1 at Stoke. The Potters will be hoping for a different scoreline on Saturday, but they have never won in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light.

In the last meeting between the two sides, the match ended in a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium as Charlie Adam cancelled out Connor Wickham's strike in the first minute to earn the Potters a share of the spoils.

However, Sunderland have won their last two home games against Stoke, including last season's 3-1 victory after a Steven Fletcher brace and a goal from Wickham.

Stoke high on confidence

Stoke have recovered well from their worst start to a Premier League season. After taking only three points from their first six games, the Potters come into the game against Sunderland full of confidence, after claiming 16 points from the last possible 21, conceding just three goals.

A key to their upturn in form has been their formidable away record and their defensive resilience this season.

Can Stoke continue their excellent away record?

Once famed for their reliance on results at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke have turned themselves into a formidable force on the road under Mark Hughes. In fact, they have one of the best away records in the Premier League this season.

Twelve of Stoke's 19 points have been picked-up away from home and their latest away win over Southampton last weekend took their points tally from their last four away games to 10.

Their away record will give the Potters plenty of confidence heading into the match at the Stadium of Light, especially considering Sunderland have taken just five points from their home games this season.

Can Jack Butland make history?

By keeping clean sheets in Stoke's past five away games in all competitions, Jack Butland has already equalled Gordon Bank's 45 year club-record for consecutive clean sheets.

A clean sheet against Sunderland will see the 20-year-old beat the 1966 FIFA World Cup winner's record and will continue Butland's impressive form.

Butland has dealt with the responsibility of becoming Stoke's number one goalkeeper in tremendous style.
Butland has dealt with the responsibility of becoming Stoke's number one goalkeeper in tremendous style. (Getty Images)

Along with his five clean sheets this season, Butland has made the second highest number of saves in the top-flight (51), with only Sunderland's Costel Pantilimon recording more (54).

Do not expect many goals

There have been just 23 goals scored in Premier League games involving Stoke this season; fewer than any other side. This is due to Stoke not scoring many goals, but not conceding many either.

The Potters have conceded just 12 goals this season; only Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have a better defensive record than Stoke.

However, at the other end of the pitch, only bottom of the table Aston Villa have scored fewer than Stoke's 11 goals this season.

Having said that, because of Stoke's impressive defensive record, a single goal has been all Stoke have needed to win in five games this season in all competitions.

The opposition

Since Sam Allardyce's arrival at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland have taken six points from a possible 15, including a vital win in their fight against relegation on Monday night against Crystal Palace.

The victory at Selhurst Park was only Sunderland's second of the season and moved the Black Cats into 18th place in the table, just one point adrift of rivals Newcastle United.

Their home form has been poor, with the Black Cats taking only five points from games at the Stadium of Light this season, and three of which came from their Tyne Wear derby win over Newcastle.

Defoe and Sunderland celebrate after Defoe's winning goal against Crystal Palace.
Defoe and Sunderland celebrate after Defoe's winning goal against Crystal Palace. (Image: Getty Images)

Only Bournemouth have conceded more goals than Sunderland this season, with the Black Cats conceding 26 goals in their 13 goals. Their two clean sheets this season have resulted in victories.

Last season, Sunderland struggled to score goals as only Burnley, who were relegated to the Sky Bet Championship, scored fewer goals in the top-flight. However, they have improved, with 14 goals so far this season; with eight of those 14 goals being scored by either Jermain Defoe or Steven Fletcher.

Team news

Xherdan Shaqiri is fit after a hamstring strain but defender Philipp Wollscheid is a doubt with a sore pelvis. Geoff Cameron or Marc Wilson are likely to deputise should the German defender miss out, along with Marc Muniesa, who has overcome his hamstring injury.

Sunderland are hoping Jermain Defoe will be fit after the Black Cat's top scorer limped off with an ankle injury against Crystal Palace.

Fabio Borini could return after missing the Palace game with an ankle injury, but defender Billy Jones is suspended following his fifth booking of the season.

Midfielder Liam Bridcutt has joined Championship side Leeds United on loan.

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