Stoke City will be returning to the Britannia Stadium this Saturday as the Black Cats make the journey south. Mark Hughes’ men will be looking to stop the rot this weekend and try and toughen up their recently leaky backline. The Potters will also be seeking revenge on Sam Allardyces’ Sunderland after losing 2-0 in the return fixture up at the Stadium of Light, following a Shawcross sending off which made it much more difficult for Stoke, already notoriously low scorers, to mount any sort of comeback.
However, they will be looking to tame the Black Cats and vanquish and survival hopes and put recent horrific results against Liverpool, Tottenham and most recently Manchester City, behind them. The Sunderland fans will be full of confidence following a stingy 0-0 draw with third chasing Arsenal, and with Stoke in a bad vein of form it might just be their chance to start building a gap between them and the bottom three going into the penultimate game of the season the following week.
The Potters will be hopefully welcoming back Xherdan Shaqiri to the starting eleven after an injury keeping the Swiss star out for almost a month. His much need skill and composure will be welcomed back into the attack with Stoke creating very little whilst the Alpine Messi has been missing. His pace on the counter should also prove to be fruitful by pegging back attacking fullback Patrick Van-Aanholt, giving the City backline more relief.
Jakob Haugaard will also be marking his second appearance at the Britannia after a Shay Given injury last week in the first half of the game at Manchester City. The under twenty-one international will be hoping to keep his first competitive clean sheet in Stoke colours after conceding eight goals in his previous three games.
Erik Pieters is also expected to be called back into the line up at left back after missing the last two games through suspension. He will hopefully bring much more defensive discipline to the side after Wollschied has found himself up against the winger whilst Muniesa starts to track back.
Stoke's leading goal scorer Marko Arnautovic is a doubt for the game, meaning Stoke will be without some much needed firepower. Being the only man to break ten goals this season his, pace, power, and finishing touch will be a huge loss and give Sunderland some extra confidence going into the game.