Norwich City-Stoke City Preview
Stoke City have more two more games slated for this week, starting Wednesday night when the Potters welcome Norwich City to the Britannia Stadium.
Mark Hughes' side were one of four to spend a week away from the Premier League in two Cup competitions. Stoke fell 1-0 at home to Liverpool in the first leg of a League Cup semifinal Tuesday before traveling to League One side Doncaster and edging past the battling Rovers 2-1 on Saturday in the FA Cup.
Hughes made nine changes in between those games. More intriguing was that the boss used a lineup at Doncaster with four strikers in Joselu, Mame Diouf, Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters. Crouch and Walters scored.
"I made a number of changes, but I don't feel it was that much of a risk because we had nine internationals out on the pitch," Hughes told Stoke City's official website.
Another busy week is ahead of Hughes' men with league leaders Arsenal visiting the Britannia on Sunday. The Potters are 10th on 29 points.
Hughes figures to return to the "false-nine" system that has seen the Potters attack through Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Bojan Krkic. Stoke fell 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion in their last league match Jan. 2.
Shaqiri, Stoke's record signing from Inter Milan for 12 million pounds ($18.8 million), made his Potters debut in a 1-1 draw at Norwich City on Aug. 22. He assisted on Diouf's opener that was cancelled out in the first half by Canaries defender Russell Martin.
There wasn't much for Norwich to chirp about after being dumped out of the FA Cup with a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City at Carrow Road on Saturday. Cameron Jerome and company opted to quickly forget about that one.
"The league is our bread and butter, realistically so we've got to concentrate on that now," Jerome said.
That approach may be prudent since the Canaries have won three of their last four in the league following a 1-0 home victory over Southampton on Jan. 2. They have rose to 15th on 23 points - six above the drop.
Alex Neil's side have won twice in 10 games on their Premier League travels. They have two away matches this week against sides with seven combined league home defeats in Stoke and Bournemouth.
"Away games are always tough in the Premier League and it's important we get some points there on the board," Jerome said. "Obviously the Stoke game is probably a little bit different where they are as a club and where we are as a club and obviously the Bournemouth one is probably of more importance to us."
Jerome will return to the Brittania for the first time since playing for the Potters from 2011-13. He isn't concerned about his reception.
"That stuff doesn't really bother me," he said. "Like I said, my focus is on Norwich City now. Stoke's a good club, I was there for a couple years, I really enjoyed my time there."
Stoke defender Geoff Cameron is eligible after his red card against the Baggies was rescinded upon an appeal. The American international, however, is in doubt with an ankle injury.