The Potters travel to Wigan Athletic having drawn their first two Premier League games and been knocked out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday by Swindon Town.
Therefore, they will be eager to grab that crucial first win at the DW Stadium, although they haven’t had much success against Roberto Martinez’s side in recent years.
The task won’t be made any easier by the fact that the Latics have made a promising start to the campaign, spoiling Southampton’s Premier League homecoming last weekend before comfortably dispatching Nottingham Forest midweek in the cup.
Potters fans will be hoping the Wigan hoodoo that has seen them win only once in eight top-flight games finally relents this weekend.
Wigan Athletic Fact-File:
Full Name: Wigan Athletic Football Club
Stadium: The DW Stadium
Owner: Dave Whelan
Chairman: Dave Whelan
Manager: Roberto Martinez
2011/12: Premier League (15th), FA Cup (3rd Round), League Cup (2nd Round)
Record victory: 7-1 v Scarborough, Division Three, 11/03/1997
Record defeat: 1-9 v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, 22/11/2009
Record transfer paid: £6m for Charles N’Zogbia to Newcastle United, 02/02/2009
Record transfer received: £16m for Luis Antonio Valencia from Manchester United, 30/06/2009
Introducing the Gaffer:
Wigan fans will have counted their blessings earlier this summer when talks between Roberto Martinez and the Liverpool board culminated in the Spaniard ultimately staying with the club.
As the Merseysiders opted for Brendan Rodgers instead, Martinez was free to plan for his fourth season in charge at the DW Stadium – although he remains a manager of high stock in the eyes of rival chairmen.
This is partly down to the outstanding job he has widely been recognised to have done with the Latics, ensuring Premier League survival on a shoestring while also advocating attractive, attacking football.
His honesty and personality have endeared him to opposition managers, supporters and the media, although he has demonstrated no shortage of competitive spirit, illustrated perfectly by his side’s remarkable turnaround last season after looking doomed for relegation.
Martinez’s decision to move to Wigan in the summer of 2009 after two successful years in charge of Swansea City was no doubt made easier by the fact he spent six years there as a player.
In fact, it was with the Greater Manchester club that he first moved to English football in 1995 after coming through the youth system at Real Zaragoza.
He joined fellow Spaniards Jesús Seba and Isidro Díaz at Springfield Park, and the trio earned the nickname ‘The Three Amigos’. He made 187 league appearances there before moving to Motherwell in 2001.
A short spell there was followed by a move to Walsall, before another switch in 2003 to Swansea City. He was an immediate hit with the Welsh club, and played 122 times in three seasons before finishing his career at the now-defunct Chester City.
His exploits at Swansea and Wigan as manager didn’t just attract the interest of Liverpool. In the summer of 2011, he turned down an approach from Aston Villa too. Latics fans will hope his loyalty remains as strong during the season ahead.
Matthew Etherington remains Tony Pulis main injury worry ahead of the game as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury, which has ruled him out of the sides last two games.
The winger picked up the knock during the opening day 1-1 draw with newly-promoted Reading, and whilst Dave Kemp revealed he is edging nearer to full-fitness, he admits he still isn’t sure as to whether he will be ready to feature on Saturday.
Jamie Ness, who limped out of the 4-3 Capital One Cup clash on Tuesday, will also miss out at the DW Stadium, whilst long term absentee Mamady Sidibe remains sidelined with a minor groin strain he sustained two weeks ago.
Other than that, Tony Pulis should have an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from, and he will be hoping to add to that before the closure of the transfer window at 11pm on Friday evening.
West Ham United v Fulham (12.45pm)
Swansea City v Sunderland
Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City
West Bromwich Albion v Everton
WIGAN ATHLETIC v STOKE CITY
Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers (5.45pm)
Liverpool v Arsenal (Sunday, 1.30pm)
Newcastle United v Aston Villa (Sunday, 4pm)
Southampton v Manchester United (Sunday, 4pm)
League: 9 Stoke City wins; 10 draws; 7 Wigan Athletic wins
FA Cup: 1 Stoke City win; 0 draws; 0 Wigan Athletic wins
Total: 10 Stoke City wins; 10 draws; 7 Wigan Athletic wins
Last Five Encounters:
Wigan Athletic 2-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 31/03/2012
Stoke City 2-2 Wigan Athletic (Premier League) – 31/12/2011
Stoke City 0-1 Wigan Athletic (Premier League) – 22/05/2011
Wigan Athletic 2-2 Stoke City (Premier League) – 04/12/2010
Wigan Athletic 1-1 Stoke City (Premier League) – 09/02/2010
BET365 are offering odds of 23/10 for the Potters to register a first ever top-flight victory at the DW Stadium this weekend.
Tony Pulis’ side have registered three draws and a loss in Greater Manchester since winning promotion in the 2007/08 campaign.
Wigan are priced at 5/4 to claim all three points, whilst the draw is available at odds of 9/4.
Martin Atkinson will take charge of his third league game of the season in this weekend’s clash.
The Yorkshire-born official oversaw Newcastle United’s opening day 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, and was also at the Liberty Stadium last weekend for Swansea City’s 3-0 triumph over West Ham United.
Atkinson controversially sent off Robert Huth in the 1-0 loss to Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium on February 4th, the last time he officiated a Potters game.
His most recent Wigan match came on January 16th when he refereed their 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City in the Premier League.