The Potters face a Toffee’s side full of confidence after recording three wins on the bounce, but Mark Hughes’ side will know a win would take them back into ninth after a Burnley win against Champions Leicester yesterday saw leapfrog Stoke in the table.
A win for Stoke will fill them with confidence heading into their weekend clash with West Brom. With no cup competitions to contend with, Hughes’ main target must now be chasing the coveted Europa League spot.
Saido to start?
Stoke fans will be hoping that Hughes will hand a home debut to new signing, Saido Berahino. He’s a man that Stoke have chased for over 18 months, and with Stoke needing some much needed firepower added to their attacking line up, Berahino seems like a perfect fit.
The transfer saga finally came to a close when Stoke finally managed to secure his services for a fee that could rise to £15 million. It is clear to see why Hughes was so intent on signing the player. The 23-year-old scored 20 goals in all competitions in the 2014-2015 season, which then attracted the interest of Tottenham, who had a number of bids turned down for the England striker before the Potters made their interest known.
Stoke have only registered 28 goals this term, and for a team with Europa League aspirations, and the creative flair they have at their disposal this number should be lot higher. Stoke fans have craved a “20 goals a season” striker, with Peter Crouch coming closest by netting 14 in his first season in the Potteries.
Everton were the victors the last time the two sides back in August, with a Shay Given own goal splitting the two sides. The goal came from when a controversial penalty was awarded against the visitors, after Phil Bardsley was deemed to of fouled Ashley Williams in the area. Given got his hand to the penalty, pushing it onto the post, before seeing the ball rebound off the woodwork, onto his head and in.
Everton also swept aside the Potters on their last visit to the Potteries, slotting three past a struggling Potters side this time last season.
What Hughes has to say
Hughes told Stokecityfc.com “Every team in the league has players that can hurt you, and in fairness Everton have more than most. They have real dangers through the middle, right up top and out wide too, so we have to be wary of them."
He continued, “They have real momentum behind them at the moment having won three games on the spin and they will undoubtedly come here on Wednesday wanting to prolong their run." Hughes explained, “We haven’t been doing too badly ourselves though, we have our own threats that they will be aware of and hopefully we will ruin their evening for them.”
Hughes also commented on what the targets are for the rest of the season: “So we are all battling now for a top seven or eight finish, and we are right in the mix for that along with Everton and West Brom." He added, “We have finished ninth in each of the last three seasons and our target now is to try and beat that if at all possible."
The Welshman concluded, “We know it isn’t going to be easy, nothing is in the Premier League, but these two matches are really important for us, and could go some way to determining just where we could finish the season.”