Football

West Bromwich Albion Vs Stoke City, Sat 20 Nov 2010

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Stoke manager Tony Pulis could name an unchanged line-up for their Barclays Premier League match against West Brom at The Hawthorns.

The Potters boss could well keep faith with the side which beat Liverpool last weekend, especially as the only players on international duty were the Republic's Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters and Marc Wilson - all of whom were not in that XI.

Asmir Begovic is expected to continue in goal with Thomas Sorensen still having slight problems with an elbow injury and Pulis is reluctant to change his defence.

Pulis believes the Potters are growing as a Premier League team but has urged his players not to get ahead of themselves.

They have built on their defensive organisation this season to add a more attacking edge with wingers Matt Etherington and Jermaine Pennant.

It is a key aspect which the Potters boss feels shows they are starting to feel at home in the top flight.

But he was keen to stress to his squad that they have not made it yet.

"Everyone was talking about five straight defeats last week, that's how quickly things turn around," said the Stoke boss.

"The Liverpool result has to go up with one of the great days at the Britannia.

"To play the way we did should give everyone great heart and the players are very excited by the fact we have ended up playing so well against Liverpool.

"We have become a little bit more expansive this season, playing with two wingers, and trying to put a bit more pressure on the opposition.

"As you progress and get a little bit more dynamic going forward you still have to find the balance where you are winning games and that means being strong at the back.

"The aim is to have these attacking players in the team and have the threat but also to be as solid as you possibly can defensively.

"It is getting the players to recognise and understand that when you have the talent we have on the pitch they have to be a bit more cautious about what they are doing and being brighter defensively.

"We have to make sure we stay as solid as we can and when we get the opportunity to play we play.

"The most important thing is not to get too carried away and keep our feet on the ground, ensuring the players don't get too above their station."

Chris Brunt is a doubt for West Brom after picking up an injury on international duty in midweek.

The midfielder sustained a groin injury during Northern Ireland's 1-1 draw with Morocco at Windsor Park on Wednesday and was substituted at half-time.

Defender Jonas Olsson (Achilles) and striker Ishmael Miller (abdomen) are definitely out although boss Roberto Di Matteo welcomes back defender Gonzalo Jara from a three-game suspension.

Di Matteo has backed his team to match Stoke's physical approach by "playing ugly" at The Hawthorns.

"I don't want my team to be pretty," said Di Matteo. "I want my team to win games. That's the ultimate aim.

"I don't care if I need to win by playing a certain way, that's not a problem for me.

"I want to win games. If we have to be ugly to win, then we will play ugly.

"We all enjoy watching teams play an attractive style - but you need to respect other styles.

"There are different ways to win football games and styles can be secondary."

West Brom and Stoke have experienced starkly contrasting fortunes in recent weeks, with the Baggies seeking to end a four-match winless run and tomorrow's visitors eyeing a third straight league win.

Those results have conspired to leave both sides on 16 points after 13 games, and victory for either tomorrow will probably be rewarded with a place inside the top eight.

Di Matteo admits it would be wrong to label Stoke as one-trick ponies, but concedes their threat from set-pieces cannot be overlooked.

"Stoke have added a different dimension with the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Matt Etherington, Tuncay and Kenwyne Jones but they still score a lot from set-pieces so it will be a challenge to play against them," he added on www.wba.co.uk.

"I've seen them play many times and no-one has really come up with a solution to playing against them.

"We haven't conceded many from set-pieces but they will throw up different challenges."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
West Bromwich Albion
Stoke City
Football
Premier League

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