Football

Norwich City Vs Stoke City, Sun 21 Aug 2011

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Stoke boss Tony Pulis believes all three of the Barclays Premier League's newest members can make a positive impression in the top flight this season.

Having been favourites to go straight back down when they were promoted in 2008, Stoke have instead defied their critics to establish themselves in the Premier League, and they are often cited by fans and managers as an example to try to follow.

Last season they finished 13th, their lowest final position during their three Premier League campaigns, and secured a place in Europe by reaching the final of the FA Cup.

The Potters put themselves in a great position to reach the group stages of the Europa League with a 1-0 win over FC Thun on Thursday night, and they have travelled straight from Switzerland to Norwich ahead of Sunday`s league clash.

Paul Lambert's Canaries began their campaign in promising fashion with a 1-1 draw at Wigan, and although QPR and Swansea were both beaten 4-0, Pulis believes they have what it takes to do well.

He said: "We have had our way of doing things and we've stuck very rigidly to building up over three years and they will learn as they go along.

"I think the three clubs have got very good managers. You look at Paul Lambert, (Neil) Warnock and Brendan (Rodgers) and they have all done fantastic jobs in getting their teams promoted.

"It is a different challenge and a different set of rules. It is not a level playing field. You learn very quickly and you have to take things on board."

Pulis knows facing a promoted club in their first home match in the Premier League will present significant challenges for Stoke, and a trip back from Europe two days before is not ideal preparation.

Next weekend the Potters must also travel away to West Brom after the second leg of their clash with Thun, although at least that is at the Britannia Stadium.

Pulis said: "It is going to be a difficult game because of the match (on Thursday) and then we come back and we play two away games, which is a tough call for the club. We will face the challenge head on and do our best.

"I would have preferred to have played Norwich further down the line because it is their first home game in the Premier League.

"If you go back to when we came up, we faced Aston Villa in our first game at home and we ended up winning 2-1.

"Norwich is a fantastic club; they have a chairman who is a massive supporter, it is old-fashioned in the respect of tradition and they have a great group of supporters.

"Norwich have sold out, they are a very well-supported club and the atmosphere will be fantastic. We have to roll our sleeves up and make sure we have a clear mind and give it the best we possibly can."

Pulis will make changes from the side that beat Thun in the Europa League.

Pulis rested Asmir Begovic, Jonathan Woodgate, Glenn Whelan and Jermaine Pennant in Switzerland and they could all return to the starting line-up.

The Potters boss must also decide whether to include Matthew Upson in the squad after the England defender made an impressive debut for the club against Thun while Rory Delap (hamstring) is a major doubt.

Norwich manager Lambert knows his team will have to raise their game to another level.

The Canaries opened the Barclays Premier League campaign with a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Wigan, battling back from a goal down before holding out for a point.

However, when Stoke make the journey to Norfolk, Lambert expects Norwich to face another stern test of their newly-acquired top-flight credentials.

"Every game you play, it is going to be tough for its own different reasons," said the Canaries boss.

"Stoke get accused of being over-physical, but you make no apologies for it because they are winning more games than not, and Stoke can play as well.

"It is not set in stone the way you have to play - the game is about winning and Stoke have done that more than not.

"They were a handful against Chelsea, who are one of the favourites to win the league and then got a terrific win in Europe."

Lambert continued: "Stoke got to the FA Cup final and on into Europe, so that shows you the magnitude of the task we have got. But we are at home, and we have to try to win.

"We have to earn the right to play - and if you do not get hold of the ball, then we will be in trouble."

It has been six seasons since Carrow Road hosted top-flight football, and only two years ago that Lambert's Colchester thumped the Canaries 7-1 on the opening day of the 2009/2010 npower League One campaign.

Norwich, who recruited the Scot soon after, impressed at home last season, chalking up 13 wins on the way to second place behind QPR.

Lambert believes if the Canaries are to beat the odds and stay up, then Carrow Road has to create an atmosphere to spur his team on in what are expected to be testing times.

"The crowd can be a massive help to us, and can be again on Sunday," Lambert said. "You have to stick together, no matter what or you are not going to have success. If we do that, then hopefully we will be okay."

New signing Daniel Ayala could make his debut in defence, with Zak Whitbread struggling because of a knee injury.

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

Topics:
Jermaine Pennant
Asmir Begovic
Jonathan Woodgate
Matthew Upson
Football
Premier League
Rory Delap
Daniel Ayala
Zak Whitbread
Glenn Whelan
FA Cup
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