Stoke v Southampton preview: Defensive headache for Mark Hughes
Last Updated: 30/09/17 7:26am
Mark Hughes faces a selection dilemma in defence for Stoke's Premier League game against Southampton on Saturday.
A groin injury for Bruno Martins Indi means the Netherlands international will miss out for the Potters, who host goal-shy Saints at the bet365 Stadium.
Kurt Zouma returns to ease the blow after he was ineligible to face parent club Chelsea last weekend but Ryan Shawcross is also absent and Hughes has doubts over the availability of Geoff Cameron and Kevin Wimmer.
Stoke slumped to a 4-0 home defeat to defending champions Chelsea but face a Southampton side this Saturday struggling to score.
Mauricio Pellegrino's side failed to net for the fourth time in six league games as they were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United last Saturday.
"We need all our offensive players to be better in the final third," Pellegrino said. "Goals complete your job as a striker, and I can highlight all of them.
"Being better in the final third, it's not about more strikers, wingers or pushing the full-backs higher - it's just about quality in the final third."
Martins Indi (groin) is Stoke's latest absentee, while Shawcross (back) is also missing and both Cameron and Wimmer (both hamstring) are rated doubtful.
Hughes does have Zouma back and full-backs Glen Johnson and Erik Pieters are also options to play centrally again.
Virgil van Dijk could remain on the bench for Southampton as he steps up his return to match fitness.
Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino insists the Netherlands defender must remain patient on his reintegration after failing in his bid to force a summer move to Liverpool.
Pellegrino could be able to select from strength, with Matt Targett working hard to shake off ankle trouble.
- Stoke City have only won three of their last 15 home matches against Southampton in all competitions (D5 L7).
- Southampton have failed to score in 10 of their last 14 Premier League matches and have scored just eight goals from 180 shots in these games (4.4 per cent).
- Southampton have kept a clean sheet in their opening two league games away from home in 2017-18. They've never kept clean sheets in their opening three away games of any of their previous 90 seasons in the Football League.
- Manolo Gabbiadini scored four goals in his first three Premier League appearances, averaging a goal every 62 minutes & converting 25 per cent of shots. In his 14 Premier League appearances since then, he's scored just once from 21 shots (4.8 per cent) and averaged a goal every 790 minutes.
It was a disappointing result for Stoke last week but they just came up against a very, very good Chelsea side. I watched Chelsea in the Champions League in midweek against Atletico Madrid and they will not be far off winning that competition in my opinion.
I think Stoke, who will have Zouma back, will win this game 1-0. I know they got battered last week but Southampton aren't in the same league as Chelsea, and I never like going against Stoke at home.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (13/2 with Sky Bet)
Southampton are Sky Bet's 6/4 favourites for the victory with Stoke priced at 9/5, while the draw is a 9/4 chance. Manolo Gabbiadini heads the first goalscorer betting at 9/2 with Eric Choupo-Moting considered the hosts' main threat at 11/2 to break the deadlock.
Stoke v Southampton is included in this weekend's Super 6 line-up, with £250,000 up for grabs again.