TONY PULIS has warned his players that the festivities are over for now . . . as Stoke City get down to the business of trying to extend upon their unbeaten run.
Pulis’ side entertain Champions League hopefuls Everton on Saturday afternoon at the end of a week in which they have entered into the Christmas spirit.
The Everton game begins another tough period in the Barclays Premier League programme when City face further home matches against Liverpool and Chelsea, while they also make trips to Tottenham Hotspur and champions Manchester City.
“We had a tough start to the season and we’re going into another difficult run of fixtures now over Christmas,” said Pulis at his pre-match press conference.
“The players had their Christmas party last weekend, then they all went out with the wives on Monday for a meal and we’ve been to give out presents to the children in local hospitals, so they’ve enjoyed all that and now it’s down to the hard work again.
“We gave them a couple of days off, but then when we pushed them hard in training. They looked certainly refreshed, so hopefully it’s done them a power of good.
“There are some big games coming up over the next four weeks, but in my view, none of them are going to be tougher than the task we face against Everton.
“It doesn’t surprise me one little bit that they are up in fourth spot at the moment and I am sure they will go on to finish in the top six this season.”
Pulis is a great admirer of the job which his opposite number David Moyes has done in the ten years he has been in charge at Goodison Park.
“David has done a fantastic job,” he added. “He has worked tirelessly to put Everton where they are now and he has spent his money wisely.
“They’re a top, top club and they possess all the tools to cause you problems. I just think, technically and physically, they’re as good as anyone in the League on their day. There’s a really good balance to their team with Baines and Coleman getting forward at every available opportunity down either flank, while Jelavic and Fellaini are a big threat.
“We will have to play to our maximum, and we’ll need our supporters to do likewise, if we are going to continue our good form and extend our unbeaten run.”
Although Pulis knows that his side’s form, and in particular their excellent defensive record, will be put to the test by high-flying Everton, he is hoping that his side will improve upon one aspect of their performance in last weekend’s game at Villa Park.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t create as many chances as we would have liked against Villa,” commented City’s manager. “We’ve been creating plenty of them up until then, but wasting a fair few, so we will be looking to rectify that on Saturday.”