STOKE CITY will be gunning for a second successive Premier League win when they face Norwich at the Britannia Stadium tomorrow.
The Potters arrested their slump in fortunes with a richly deserved 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
That lifted them six points clear of the drop zone but boss Tony Pulis maintains his side still need another three points to secure their top-flight status for another season.
They will hope to achieve that aim at the expense of Norwich who, like Stoke, bagged only their second league win of 2013 last Saturday by beating Reading.
Chris Hughton’s side have 38 points – one more than their opponents this weekend – but have claimed just 10 of those points from their 17 away games so far this season.
NORWICH CITY FACT-FILE:
Full name: Norwich City
Stadium: Carrow Road
Chairman: Alan Bowkett
Manager: Chris Hughton
2011/12: Premier League (12th), FA Cup (Fifth Round), League Cup (First Round).
Record transfer fee paid: £8.5million forRicky van WolfswinkeltoSporting Lisbon, March 2013
Record transfer fee received: £7.25million for Dean Ashton from West Ham United, January 2006
CHRIS HUGHTON knows from first-hand experience just how cut-throat the world of football management can be these days.
The former Tottenham and Republic of Ireland star made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he was sacked by Newcastle in December 2010, just a few months after leading the Geordies to the Championship title.
Newcastle were mid-table when Hughton was shown the door and the decision prompted widespread criticism of owner Mike Ashley.
Hughton returned to management in the summer of 2011 with Birmingham, where he enhanced his reputation by guiding the Blues into the group stage of the Europa League and to a fourth-place finish in Championship.
His achievements at St. Andrews did not go un-noticed and he found himself back in the Premier League last summer as Paul Lambert’s successor at Norwich.
MATTHEW ETHERINGTON is poised to return to Tony Pulis’ plans after a two-match lay-off with a back problem . . . but there’s less optimistic news about Marc Wilson, who suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury at QPR last weekend.
Stoke are also monitoring Charlie Adam and Cameron Jerome, who have been nursing hamstring injuries this week.
Norwich will be without central defender Michael Turner, whose season may have come to a premature end due to a groin problem.
But Steven Whittaker is fit and available after missing their win over Reading as a precaution with a knee problem.
Jonathan Walters:“They’ve got a great manager in Chris Hughton. He has done really well over the years, particularly at Newcastle who he led to the Championship title at the first time of asking only to be sacked soon afterwards which I thought was very, very unfortunate because he’s a very good manager.
“He’s got them playing well with a good system and they are picking up points at the moment. They recorded a good win over Reading last weekend and they have got players who can hurt you, which we have to be aware of.
Chris Hughton:“I never doubted that we had wins in us, never doubted that for one moment. Of course when you only had one win in so many games, life becomes a little bit anxious, a little bit nervous.
“I hope we can have a decent end to the season. Apart from very early on, we’ve not been in the bottom three. I think that indicates that overall it’s been a fairly decent season. We now have to make sure we finish it well.
“It’s such a tough League and we’ve found it hard to score the goals we’ve wanted and it is trying to make sure you get that right formula and that has proved difficult because of the quality of the teams you’re up against.”
THIS WEEKEND’S FIXTURES:
(All kick-offs 15:00 unless otherwise stated)
Manchester City v West Ham (TV – 12:45)
Everton v Fulham
Southampton v West Brom
Wigan v Tottenham
Newcastle v Liverpool (TV - 17:30)
Reading v QPR (TV – 13:30pm)
Chelsea v Swansea
Arsenal v Manchester United (TV – 16:00)
Aston Villa v Sunderland (TV – 20:00)
League: 16 Stoke City wins; 15 Norwich wins; 14 draws
FA Cup: 0 Stoke City wins; 1 Norwich win; 0 draw
League Cup:2 Stoke City wins; 0 Norwich wins; 0 draws
Total: 18 Stoke City wins; 16 Norwich wins; 14 draws
LAST FIVE MEETINGS:
Norwich 1-0 Stoke (Premier League) – 3/11/12
Stoke 1-0 Norwich (Premier League) – 03/03/12
Norwich 1-1 Stoke (Premier League) – 21/08/11
Norwich 0-1 Stoke (Championship) – 11/03/08
Stoke 2-1 Norwich (Championship) – 01/12/07
FANCY A FLUTTER:
Stoke City win: 11/10
Norwich win: 16/5
The odds are correct at the time of writing, and are from bet365.com. These may differ depending upon the latest betting trends.
THE MAN IN CHARGE:
ANTHONY TAYLOR, who is based inWythenshawe in Greater Manchester, will be in charge of Saturday’s game.
This will be the third time this season he has officiated over the Potters, having taken charge of the 4-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford in October and the 4-1 FA Cup third round replay win over Crystal Palace in January.
In the 32 games he has refereed so far in 2012/13 he has handed out six red cards to Nathan Dyer (Swansea), Stephane Mbia (QPR), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Carlton Cole (West Ham), Darron Gibson (Everton) and Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal). He has also shown 78 yellow cards.