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Preview: Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion

Sports Mole previews the Premier League match between Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion at the Britannia Stadium.

Two sides still looking for their first win of the Premier League season meet at the Britannia Stadium this weekend as Stoke City host West Bromwich Albion.

Both come into this match following difficult outings in the League Cup earlier this week, being taken to penalties by lower league opponents.

Stoke City

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes and his assistant Mark Bowen talk at the end of the Budweiser FA Cup third round match between Stoke City and Leicester City at the Britannia Stadium on January 4, 2014© Getty Images

Mark Hughes's side head into this match just a couple of days after a tricky tie with League Two side Luton Town in the League Cup, needing penalties to progress to the third round of the competition.

The performance at Kenilworth Road leaves the Potters without a win over 90 minutes in a competitive fixture so far this season, having lost to Liverpool on the opening day of the season followed by draws with Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City.

Stoke fans would have had high expectations heading into this season following a busy summer in the transfer market, including the signings of the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Philipp Wollscheid and Joselu, but the side still seems to be gelling.

This weekend's hosts have also lost first-choice goalkeeper Asmir Begovic over the summer. Although England Under-21 captain Jack Butland has stepped up since the Bosnian's move to Chelsea, Stoke are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league, conceding four goals in their first three fixtures of the campaign.

Stoke have shown promise in front of goal though, netting three times so far, which is more than Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton.

This fixture brings the added pressure for Stoke of facing the manager that led them to promotion to the Premier League in 2008, as Tony Pulis brings his West Bromwich Albion side to the Britannia.

Recent form: WDWLDD
Recent form (all competitions): LLLDDW

West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion's Welsh manager Tony Pulis shouts from the touchline during the English Premier League football match against Everton on January 19, 2015© Getty Images

Tony Pulis takes his West Brom side to his old club sitting at the bottom of the Premier League table, with just one point from their first three games of the season.

The Baggies have had a tricky start to the term, suffering defeats to defending champions Chelsea and early pace-setters Manchester City, while also sharing a goalless draw with top-flight newcomers Watford.

Like Stoke, West Brom come into this fixture off the back of a difficult outing in the League Cup. The Baggies were held to a goalless draw after extra time by League One side Port Vale, but secured a spot in the third round following the penalty shootout.

Goals were lacking in their first two league matches this season, but West Brom finally opened their account against Chelsea last weekend, with James Morrison netting a brace in the 3-2 defeat, although he also missed a penalty.

The transfer saga regarding Saido Berahino has dragged on again this week in the build-up to this match, with the club confirming that they have rejected offers for the England international, who has now unfollowed West Brom on Twitter.

With transfer deadline day just a few days away, several players are still being linked with moves to The Hawthorns, including Cardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall and Manchester United defender Jonny Evans.

Recent form: DWLLWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWLDLW

Team News

Chris Brunt in action for West Brom on January 10, 2015© Getty Images

Both sides made a host of changes for their midweek exploits in the League Cup, which should mean that they will both have plenty of fresh legs available for this match.

West Brom are likely to be without Chris Brunt though, as he was forced off with an apparent hamstring injury in the first half of their clash with Port Vale on Tuesday, while goalkeeper Ben Foster remains a long-term absentee with a knee ligament tear.

Meanwhile, Bojan Krkic made his first start for Stoke since suffering a knee ligament injury in January, and came through 85 minutes against Luton. Although Hughes will be wary of overworking the Spaniard too soon, he could be in consideration for the visit of the Baggies.

Peter Odemwingie has been out for the last few weeks with a hamstring injury, although he could be ready to return this week, while defender Ryan Shawcross continues to recover from a back problem.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Butland, Johnson, Wollscheid, Muniesa, Pieters, Adam, Whelan, Shaqiri, Affelay, Joselu Diouf

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Yacub, McManaman, Gnabry, Morrison, Gardner, Lambert, Rondon

Head To Head

West Brom secured a rare win over Stoke when the sides last met in March, clinching a 1-0 victory at The Hawthorns thanks to an early strike from Brown Ideye, but they were beaten 2-0 when they travelled to the Britannia earlier in the season.

The Baggies have picked up just two wins in their last 17 meetings with the Potters, who like West Brom were promoted to the Premier League at the end of the 2007-08 campaign.

In 86 meetings between the two sides, Stoke have secured 41 wins, while West Brom have just 23 and 22 have finished level. Stoke's biggest win was a 10-3 victory back in 1937, while this weekend's visitors have not won by more than a one-goal margin since 1984.

Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:

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We say: Stoke City 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Neither side have produced their best football in the opening few weeks of the new season, but Stoke are usually a formidable force at home, and have an impressive record against West Brom in recent seasons, so will surely be expecting three points from this fixture. With few injury concerns and several of their regular starters sitting out in the League Cup, Mark Hughes's side should have enough to secure a closely-fought victory.

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