Well it’s here, the final game of the season. We travel south to St. Mary’s Stadium to face Southampton.
Ending what has been a disappointing season, to say the least, will be a relief for many Stoke fans as the calls for Hughes’ head intensifies. The Potters find themselves sitting in a low 14th and a win can only push them to 11th, with that also depending on the results of the teams above in the table. Mark has failed to any achieve his objectives and the minimum expectations of the fans.
As for Southampton, they’ll be expecting to secure 8th with a positive result on Sunday. Manager, Claude Puel, said “After a long season, our players have a good focus about this last game. We can finish strong”. Although 7th is out of reach, they will still be fighting for the extra cash for finishing 8th instead of a possible 11th. However, their home record this season can give Stoke some confidence. The Saints have averaged 1.33 points at St. Mary’s, meaning it’s more likely they’d play to a draw than them getting all three points. Southampton have also failed to score in their last four home games.
But that draw does not help Stoke. One point can put us to 12th, if results go our way. Still not good enough. The lads will be looking to make the most out of a dire situation, after last week’s trouncing at the hands of Arsenal and the laughable turn-out at the renamed “Lap of Appreciation”. They’ve got a point to prove. If Hughes stays at the helm of the Midlands side over the pre-season, he’s promised big changes and the return of ‘sexy’ football. One would wonder how that’s possible if those big changes are the sale of those ‘sexy’ footballers.
The likelihood of getting a point is slim too, averaging only 0.78 points if the road. Saying that, Stoke have only lost one in four away games against Southampton in the Premier League, but five of the nine Premier League meetings have ended in draws.
As for injuries, Cedric Soares may miss due to fitness as he limped off during their midweek and Ryan Bertrand is also a doubt. Stoke have a relatively clean bill, only that Arnie may miss due to an elbow injury that he picked up against Arsenal.
The EFL Cup finalists will be pushing to secure 8th place, whilst Stoke have everything to play for as Mark Hughes looks to get his 150th win as a manager in what could be his last outing as Stoke manager.
Written by Benito Fisher
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