Stoke v Southampton preview: Marc Muniesa and Glen Johnson rated doubtful
Last Updated: 14/12/16 8:37pm
Stoke City welcome Southampton to the fortress that is the Bet365 Stadium on Wednesday evening in the Premier League (kick-off 8pm).
Mark Hughes' men are rolling in the right direction after a slow start to the campaign. They were on a run of just one win in 14 Premier League matches but have now won five of the last eight games, including three of the last four at home.
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Stoke conceded more than one goal for the first time in 10 Premier League games in Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Arsenal.
On current form, Southampton may struggle to match Arsenal's goalscoring exploits as they've only scored 14 goals in their 15 Premier League games this season.
Marc Muniesa and Glen Johnson are doubts for Stoke following last weekend's defeat to Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Ryan Shawcross and Jonathan Walters could both return to training on Tuesday but Hughes is unsure whether they'll be fit for selection.
Jack Butland, Ibrahim Afellay, Geoff Cameron and Phil Bardsley all remain long-term absentees.
Defenders Matt Targett and Jeremy Pied remain out with long-term injuries.
Stoke have won just one of their previous four home Premier League games against Southampton (D2 L1), with both teams scoring in each match.
Southampton have scored in each of their last 13 league visits to Stoke, last failing to score there in a league game in August 1977.
This will be Hughes' 400th Premier League game as a manager and will be the sixth manager to reach this landmark in the competition.
Stoke have won three of their last four Premier League home games (W3 D0 L1); the same number of victories as they had managed in their previous 12 games at the Bet365 Stadium.
The Potters have only failed to find the net in one of their last 11 Premier League matches.
Southampton have only allowed their opponents 37 shots on target in the Premier League this season; less than any other side.
Saints have won only one of their last seven Premier League away games (W1 D2 L4), including two defeats in a row at Hull and Crystal Palace most recently.
Of goalkeepers to have played 50+ Premier League games, Fraser Forster has the joint-second best goals conceded per game average (0.84 per game). Jens Lehmann is level with the Englishman, while only Petr Cech (0.75 per game) has a better ratio.
Forster has kept a clean sheet in 40 per cent of his Premier League appearances (25 in 63).
Stoke are a decent team and put up a good effort against Arsenal at the weekend. They had chances and could count themselves unlucky, because when the referee gave the penalty he saw the challenge by Granit Xhaka so has to send him off.
If he has seen it and given a penalty, it's an elbow to the face. But they played well.
Southampton are solid at the back but lack firepower going forward, especially with Austin out injured.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)
Southampton are Sky Bet's 7/5 favourites for the victory, with Stoke 2/1 despite home advantage, while the draw is priced at 9/4. The bookmakers are expecting another low-scoring affair involving the Saints, with over 2.5 goals an odds-against chance, while Puel's men are 11/4 for another win to nil.
The first goalscorer market is a wide open one as Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long share favouritism at 5/1, while Marko Arnautovic is rated the hosts' main threat at 13/2.