West Brom-Stoke City Preview
Two sides still looking for their first Premier League win of the season go head-to-head Saturday when Stoke City welcome West Bromwich Albion to the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters (0-2-1) have failed to win any of their first three league matches for the first time since 2012. The opened with a 1-0 home defeat against Liverpool followed by back-to-back draws at Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City.
Stoke took the lead against Norwich at Carrow Road last weekend after Mame Biram Diouf headed in club record-signing Xherdan Shaqiri's free kick in the 12th minute. Canaries defender Russell Martin made it 1-1 before the break, and neither side could find a winner in the second half.
The Potters played their third away match in succession on Tuesday evening and beat League Two side Luton Town 8-7 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in a League Cup game at Kenilworth Road. Jonathan Walters gave Stoke the lead in the 67th minute before Hatters substitute Cameron McGeehan equalised on 90 minutes to send the game into extra-time.
United States international defender Geoff Cameron slotted home the winning penalty for the Potters at the end of a tense shootout in which all eight Stoke City players converted.
"We made it more difficult than it needed to be in fairness," Hughes told his club's official website. "We had the vast majority of the play and got our noses in front and should have seen the game out quite comfortably. We switched off and allowed them one chance at the end of the game and they took it.
"Credit to the guys though, they stood up and they were all great penalties. They were all confidently taken and we were delighted with that. The order of the day was to progress to the next round and that's what we have done."
West Brom (0-1-2) have taken just one point from their three top-flight games after a goalless draw against promoted Watford, followed by defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea.
The Baggies lost 3-2 to defending champions Chelsea at The Hawthorns last Saturday. James Morrison scored both West Brom's goals but also missed a first-half penalty. The Blues had skipper John Terry sent off on 54 minutes.
Albion were also involved in midweek League Cup action, and like Stoke's, their match against League One side Port Vale also went to penalties after a goalless draw at Port Vale on Tuesday. The Baggies won the shootout 5-3, with James Chester scoring the decisive penalty.
Baggies boss Tony Pulis remains convinced club record-signing Salomon Rondon will score goals in the Premier League. The 25-year-old Venezuela striker, a summer singing from Zenit St Petersburg, has yet to open his account in English football and squandered a few scoring chances Tuesday night.
"Salomon needs a bit of time to settle in but he's a very intelligent centre forward," Pulis said. "He will score goals, I'm convinced about that."
Both teams won their home matches against each other last season.
Despite putting only three shots on target, Stoke triumphed 2-0 at the Britannia in late December on a second-half brace by Diouf.
West Brom prevailed 1-0 at The Hawthorns in March with a Brown Ideye goal in the 19th minute proving the difference. That victory ended a five-match winless run for the Baggies against Stoke.
Stoke have won only three of their past 13 league matches (3-5-5) dating back to February. West Brom's form also has been off dating back to last season, going 3-3-6 in their previous 12 in Premier League play.