Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday November 7 2008
8th November 2008
The Latics entertain the Potters at the end of a week that has been dominated by the rantings of a certain Mr Wenger. The great win against Arsenal last weekend will have boosted the Potters' confidence no end ahead of two weeks of matches in the North West with next week's clash at Old Trafford also to look forward to.
Tony Pulis will be hoping that some of our home form will eventually transform our away luck and the Latics would certainly be a good place from which to bring back three points. They lie just above the relegation zone with two points less than the Potters so a win will be regarded as vital for both teams.
The Latics' home performances are nearly as bad as our away form as they have just a win and a draw from five attempts, but Tony Pulis is keen to emphasize that these results do not necessarily tell the whole story: 'I've watched tapes of their games and I'm sure Steve Bruce will think they have played better than what their points return shows.
'They are a good team with a lot of pace and power and we are looking forward to what is certainly going to be a difficult game.'
Skipper, Mario Melchiot is expected to return after being struck down with a virus.
The Egyptian international has been an instant hit at the JJB since joining in the summer and has already put away eight goals for the Latics to put make him the league's current top scorer alongside Chelsea's Anelka.
Pulis should have the luxury of fielding the same starting eleven from the win last weekend with Amdy Faye likely to keep his starting slot. Liam Lawrence has restarted training after his ankle operation but is still thought to be a couple of weeks away from any chance of selection.
Stoke will be looking for their third consecutive win and a major factor in the Potters' good form is that the earlier leaky defence appears to have been plugged. Pulis has been juggling the central defence as he tried to find a working partnership and may have now found a winning formula in Ryan Shawcross and Abdoulaye Faye. Shawcross has certainly been a revelation in the last couple of weeks and looks to be back at his best.
This will be the Potters' first visit to the JJB since February 2005 when Gifton Noel-Williams gave the Potters their first victory of the year against a Latics team destined to end the season with promotion to the Premier League.
Tuesday 11th November: Rotherham (home) kick-off: 7.45pm (Cup)
Saturday 15th November: Manchester United (away) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 22nd November: West Brom (home) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 29th November: Hull (home) kick-off: 3pm
Date:Friday November 7 2008
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