Stoke V Norwich at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

12 January 2016 06:34
Stoke V Norwich - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Mark Hughes dismisses claims of Stoke complacency

Stoke boss Mark Hughes insists his players have not been guilty of complacency when suffering unanticipated slip-ups this season.

The Potters, currently 10th in the Barclays Premier League, have enjoyed some notable victories against major opposition this term, beating Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

But they have also lost a number of games they might have expected to win, with the likes of West Brom, Watford and Crystal Palace all triumphing at the Britannia Stadium.

There have been various examples of that sort of mix of results for the club since Hughes took charge in the summer of 2013 - the opening months of his first season saw a 3-2 win over Chelsea come not long after a 1-0 home defeat to Norwich.

On Wednesday Stoke host the Canaries - who are just above the relegation zone - for the first time since that fixture, before entertaining present league leaders Arsenal on Sunday.

And Hughes said on Tuesday about losses against sides like Norwich: "I don't think it's through complacency or underestimating the challenge of different teams.

"We know every Premier League game gives you problems and you have to have the answers.

"In certain games we've been unlucky, other times we've not performed and you also have to give credit to the opposition.

"Teams have come here, frustrated us and at times got breaks to take games away from us.

"For the most part we've been okay, ideally we want to be solid in the top half for the rest of the season now, and this game will hopefully help us create that gap between us and the bottom half."

Hughes is set to recall a host of first-team regulars for Wednesday's match after resting them last weekend.

The attacking quartet of Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Ibrahim Afellay sat out Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup win at Doncaster and are poised to return.

Arnautovic, whose contract ends in the summer of 2017, is currently in negotiations with the club over a new deal.

And Hughes has scoffed at reports of the Austria international demanding B#100,000-a-week wages, saying: "Figures being bandied about are just supposition by people taking a stab in the dark who really have no real idea.

"Negotiations are ongoing and it is not affecting him adversely, so there is no issue with it."

Meanwhile, in terms of the transfer window Hughes has reiterated his hope of keeping hold of striker Peter Crouch - who netted on what was only his eighth appearance of the season on Saturday - while also not dismissing talk of being interested in West Brom frontman Saido Berahino.

When asked about the Berahino link, Hughes said: "I can't really comment on players at other clubs.

"We have an interest in a number and if we are in a position to progress deals we'll try to do that."

Hughes also confirmed Stoke's Steve Sidwell is receiving interest. The midfielder is being linked with his former clubs Fulham and Reading.

Norwich manager Alex Neil has also refused to be drawn on any potential business after seeing striker Lewis Grabban leave to join Bournemouth and Kyle Lafferty linked with a move away.

The Canaries have been linked with Everton's Scotland international Steven Naismith, Crystal Palace forward Dwight Gayle and also Brentford defender James Tarkowski.

While a much-changed Norwich team were well beaten 3-0 at home by Manchester City in the FA Cup third round, the Canaries have pulled clear of the relegation zone with three wins in the last four league matches.

Neil is expecting another stern test at the Britannia Stadium.

He said: "It is a tough away game, Stoke are in good form, but these games are going to be absolutely crucial for us."

Source: PAR