Opposition's view: Norwich (Away)
Stoke City are set to travel to struggling Norwich who have had a recent upturn in form after an impressive victory against Arsenal and a draw at Villa Park against their former manager Paul Lambert. Vital Stoke editor Lloyd Reddin travelled east to ask Vital Norwich`s Ian Wilson for his pre-match thoughts.
1. You`ve had a difficult start to the season, Do you think the turmoil over the summer is the main factor?
Yeah it wasn't the best of starts; I think Hughton has taken a fair amount of time to understand the strengths weaknesses of the side and to get his new players to gel with the existing squad. The key difference has been the addition of new signing Alex Tettey in the holding midfield role, with Wes Hoolahan playing in behind an in-form Grant Holt. With Sebastien Bassong at centre back, the spine of the side is really strong - it just took Hughton a few games to get the blend right.
I think the turmoil over the summer is past us now.
2. What were your expectations for this season? And have they now changed?
We knew the 2nd season would be tough, and didn't have illusions of Europe or anything. Every fan would be happy with 4th from bottom, provided we feel we've given a good account of ourselves. The Board have committed to clearing the club of external debt if we can stay up, so it's important we do.
3. Who would you say is your danger man?
Wes Hoolahan has been in great form over the last few games and if given space is one of those annoying players that it's hard to get the ball off. He's creative and tricky and has already created the most chances out of anyone this season.
4. What would you say are your strengths as a team?
We have looked really solid in the last few games and haven't been ripped to shreds since the Liverpool game, which was a disaster. The new formation makes us difficult to break down and there's Wes, and two good wingers. We're a balanced team and I think that's going to be our key focus this season as opposed to last when we were too gun-ho.
5. What would you say are your weaknesses as a team?
We don't put our chances away. We had 4 or 5 guilt-edged opportunities v Villa and only scored one. Michael Turner at the back also has the tendency to switch off at times.
6. How do you feel about your manager?
Really positive. It was strange at first as we all knew the squad better than him, and it seemed he was being too defensive. However, we've now got a bond with him and I think he'll do well here.
7. Which player (s) do you fear from the Stoke City side?
Charlie Adam is capable of scoring from anywhere, so if he gets space, I'll be worried. Etherington is a player I also rate, and is always a threat. To be honest you always seem to do well against us, but no one real player ever stands out - you have a really good team ethic and I have a lot of respect for Tony Pulis and the way the club is run.
8. Is there any Stoke players you would like to add to your squad?
Yep, I'd take Etherington and Shawcross for starters. Pennant has periods where he looks good too, but I wouldn't want us to pay his kind of wages.
9. How do you think Stoke will do this season?
Mid table - 12th to 14th, something like that.
10. What is your likely line-up for the match?
Ruddy, Martin, Garrido, Turner, Bassong, Tettey, Johnson, Bennett, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt
Martin has a knock and may be replaced by Steven Whittaker.
11. Finally, what`s your score prediction for the match?
1-1. I'd like to say we'll win, but we're missing too many chances at the moment.
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