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Stoke vs West Brom – Match Preview

Tony Pulis returns to his old stomping ground on Saturday as he takes his West Brom side to a Stoke outfit which is currently sitting bottom of the Premier League table.

Could defeat at home to West Brom spell the end of Mark Hughes’ tenure at Stoke and how ironic would it be if it were Pulis who put the final nail in the coffin.

Stoke turned in an almost embarrassing performance on Sunday as they lost 4-1 to Crystal Palace while West Brom turned in an incredibly rare swashbuckling performance as they eased past West Ham at The Hawthorns.

It was Pulis who made what was then The Britannia Stadium a fortress but now teams don’t seem to fear Stoke especially in their current form and they will be very much there for the taking.

Add the fact that Pulis himself is under an element of pressure and we have all the makings of a combustible afternoon and one that could see our first managerial casualty of the season.

Mark Hughes will have to decide whether or not to persist with Shay Given in goal this afternoon, he hasn’t been the sole reason that Stoke have already shipped 14 goals this season in just 5 matches but he hasn’t helped the teams cause either.

The departure of Philipp Wollscheid was somewhat of a head scratcher and one that hasn’t been adequately replaced while Ryan Shawcross is falling far short of a captain’s example. Add that to summer signings who haven’t lived up to early expectations and you can begin to see the kind of picture that is being painted at Stoke.

As for West Brom that win last week would have no doubt bought Pulis some time and 7 points from 5 matches isn’t all that bad of a return but again the main issue is the kind of football being played at West Brom. Safety first may be pragmatic but it’s not all that entertaining, then again if Pulis was to end up leaving and a new man came in with a different style there’s no guarantee that it would be a success. Certainly food for thought for the new owners.

Today Stoke have got to fix the leak at the back while Pulis would love nothing more than coming back to Stoke and getting a win. Both teams need a win, Stoke a lot more but I have a feeling the two sides will end up cancelling each other out. This one will be a share of the points in my opinion.

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