Stoke City’s troubles have gone from bad to worse with their 2-1 loss to Premier League new boys Hull City in the third round of the League Cup. The Potters are sitting rock bottom in the Premier League now with just one point collected from five Premier League games and will host 10th-placed West Bromwich Albion at Bet365 Stadium tomorrow. West Brom have done decently this season but they are on the back of a huge 4-2 win against West Ham from last weekend. However, there is still considerable pressure on the shoulders of Tony Pulis. Both managers will be looking to win the game at any cost but Hughes will be more desperate as another loss could cost him his job.
Here are three key battles those could decide the game.
Marco Arnautovic Vs Craig Dawson
Arnautovic is the key player for Stoke City and the Austrian’s poor run of form is one of the reasons why Stoke are struggling for goals this season. However, the 27-year-old has scored two goals in the last two games and will be keen to carry his club back to winning ways. The goal scoring forward will be looking to trouble West Brom defence from the left flank. West Brom right-back Craig Dawson is not particularly a bombarding full-back but he is solid in defence and beating him won’t be a cakewalk for the Austrian.
Nacer Chadli Vs Glen Johnson
What an impact Chadli has made at the Hawthorns since joining the Baggies on the deadline day. Tony Pulis broke the club transfer record for the versatile Belgian midfielder and the 27-year-old has not let his boss down by contributing two goals and two assists. The former spurs winger will be a big threat from the left flank and experienced Glen Johnson will be assigned the task to keep him silent. Stoke must improve defensively in order to grind out results and stopping Chadli can do them the job.
Wilfred Bony Vs Gareth McAuley
Wasteful isn’t be a word enough to describe how Wilfred Bony has fared so far in Stoke City colours. The Ivorian was snapped up on a season-long loan from Manchester City by the Potters on the deadline day to heal their goal scoring woes. The 27-year-old has failed to do that in his two outings so far for the Stoke on Trent side but Mark Hughes should stick to him and give him more time to prove himself.
36-year-old Gareth McAuley will be up against the strong striker tomorrow and will be looking to keep him silent. Even at this age, McAuley is one of the best performers in defence in the Premier League and overcoming him would not be a walk in the park for Bony.