Stoke V Crystal Palace at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

23 August 2013 04:31
Stoke V Crystal Palace - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hughes still wants fear factor

Stoke boss Mark Hughes wants other clubs to be just as worried about trips to the Britannia Stadium this season as they have in the past - even if the Potters are playing a slightly different brand of football.

Over the last five campaigns following their promotion to the Barclays Premier League in 2008, the Staffordshire outfit's ground has been viewed as a tough place to go, with the hosts being renowned for a physical, direct style that has made them difficult to break down at the back and also strong in attack, particularly from set-plays.

That entire period was overseen by Tony Pulis, and Hughes, the man who succeeded him this summer, has indicated that he intends to get Stoke playing in a more attractive manner.

But ahead of Saturday's top-flight clash with Crystal Palace - his first competitive home game since taking charge - the 49-year-old has stressed he has no intention of letting the fear factor the stadium has held for teams visiting it subside.

"I fully expect people to still think that it is going to be a difficult task," Hughes said.

"We might do things in a different way.

"I've said before - I'm not looking to change things radically.

"I've got a good group of players that I think are more than capable of playing a little bit more offensively, certainly at home, and we will try to do that.

"But I think it is important that coming to the Britannia Stadium remains a very tough fixture for everyone in the Premier League - that is the intention.

"The things that have put teams under pressure in the past, such as set-plays, will still be part of our make-up. We won't not put the ball in the box when it needs to go in.

"But along the way we might play slightly differently."

Stoke's campaign got under way with last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Liverpool and Hughes was encouraged by the performance his side put in at Anfield.

He also believes Palace manager Ian Holloway will feel much the same about how the newly-promoted London side began their season.

The Eagles were beaten 1-0 at home by Tottenham on Sunday, and Hughes said: "I think they (Palace) have been in a similar situation to ourselves - they went up against a top team last weekend, acquitted themselves really well and I think they will be encouraged.

"They will want to use their confidence from that game against us and hope to get something positive out of the game.

"But it is up to us - we are the home team, it's our first home game and we want to make sure we start off on the right note at the Britannia Stadium."

Hughes has a trio of midfielders unavailable for the Palace game.

Brek Shea, who sustained medial ligament damage in pre-season, is not yet ready to return to action, nor is Wilson Palacios after he was taken out of the starting line-up for the Liverpool contest at the last minute and underwent what the Potters will only describe as "a minor surgical procedure".

The other absentee for Saturday is Jamie Ness due to an unspecified problem.

Ian Holloway has challenged his Crystal Palace players to make headlines for what they achieve on the pitch on Saturday as the Eagles go in search of a first Barclays Premier League victory.

Holloway found himself in the media spotlight again following a 1-0 loss to Tottenham in the opening game last weekend, his comments about match officials landing him with a charge of improper conduct and bringing the game into disrepute by the Football Association.

However, the Eagles manager - who gave plenty of colourful interviews during his last stint in the top flight with Blackpool - maintains Saturday must all be about the result marking Palace's Premier League return.

"We want to score our first goal and get a point on the board, people will start taking notice of us when things start happening," Holloway said.

"We must never go into these games with a negative attitude, but going to Stoke will be a tough, tough fixture. We will be positive though.

"I think we did really well as a team (last week) and can take positives from the game against a side like Tottenham.

"My lads as a group, whoever is selected, will be ready and clear in their roles and give a good account of themselves."

Winger Jason Puncheon could go straight into the side following his season-long loan move from Southampton.

Holloway remains keen to further strengthen the group ahead of the transfer deadline on September 2, and Crystal Palace have been linked with a loan move for Inter Milan's midfielder Ezequiel Schelotto.

Source: PA