TONY PULIS has stressed the importance of Stoke City’s last four home matches of the season in determining their final Barclays Premier League position . . . as they go in search of a “bonus” on Merseyside tomorrow.
Although Pulis’ side have performed well at Saturday evening’s opponents Everton in recent seasons, he recognises that they face a tough test on this occasion and points to the home games as being the crucial factor.
City still have four matches at the Britannia Stadium where they face Aston Villa and Norwich City, as well as Champions elect Manchester United and Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur in the coming weeks.
“The four home games are massive for us and they really hold the key,” commented Pulis ahead of the visit to Everton.
“We’ve got some tough away matches, starting this weekend, and any points that we get in those games will be a bonus.
“That doesn’t mean to say that we won’t go to Everton with a positive attitude, but we all know how difficult it’s going to be.”
He added: “We want to get to 40 points as quickly as we can; we’ve got four big games at home and they’re the games in which we’re looking to pick up the points because we've only lost twice at home this season which is not a bad record. That is why those games are massive for us and we’ll need our supporters.
“One of the good things to come out of the last game against West Brom was that, for all the negativity in the lead-up to the match, the crowd were absolutely fantastic. They were behind the team from start to finish.
“We’ll need the supporters to get behind us in the same way in those remaining matches because that can make the difference.”
Pulis knows that Everton will be roared on by the backing of their supporters for the live televised match at Goodison Park, especially after they secured an excellent victory over Manchester City in their last home match.
“It’s an old fashioned stadium with a tremendous atmosphere,” said City’s manager. “Everton’s home supports is fantastic
“Everybody is talking about the fact that Fellaini and Pienaar are suspended, but they are not where they are without having a good squad. They have a lot of quality all around the park and we know we’re in for a tough battle.
“As I’ve said before, we’ve performed better away from home this season than at any other time in the Premier League without getting the results.
“Too often, it’s not been what the opposition has done, but what we’ve done by shooting ourselves in the foot when we’ve been in good positions.”