Having claimed a hugely impressive win over title-chasing Manchester City last weekend, Mark Hughes says Stoke City must deal with a new type of pressure against West Ham on Saturday.
Hughes’ men stunned his former club at the Britannia Stadium with a convincing 2-0 victory in the Premier League on Saturday as Stoke’s new-look attacking line-up finally clicked to full effect.
Marko Arnautovic was assisted twice by Xherdan Shaqiri while Bojan Krkic also shone – the trio earning fulsome praise as Hughes’ men demonstrated their transition from a traditionally direct style of play, a legacy of Tony Pulis’ tenure, to a more aesthetic one.
That does not mean Stoke have lost their defensive prowess though, keeping six clean sheets in their last eight Premier League games. They are yet to concede since Ryan Shawcross’ return from injury on October 31.
Speaking ahead of their trip to Upton Park, Hughes acknowledged that the bar has been raised.
“We’re not used to all the compliments, normally we are beneath the radar a little bit,” said the Welshman, who will again be without Peter Crouch (hamstring) and Shay Given (knee).
“If the profile of what we are doing is raised then that’ll be a challenge that we all have to deal with. We were up against a top team and that always pushes you as an individual.
“Now the challenge for us is to try and replicate that on a consistent basis. It gives us confidence ahead of a really busy and difficult period as we try and get back into the top ten like where we believe we should be.”
Peter Odemwingie is doubtful but Marc Muniesa should be fit, both players having been afflicted by hamstring problems, while Hughes’ opposite number Slaven Bilic was handed a double injury blow this week.
Winston Reid and Victor Moses (both hamstring) will both miss the match on Saturday after joining the likes of Dimitri Payet (ankle), Diafra Sakho (thigh), Manuel Lanzini (thigh) and Enner Valencia (ankle) in the treatment room.
Amid that difficult injury situation at Upton Park, Bilic took time out to talk up West Ham’s opponents as his side seek to end their five-match winless run in the Premier League.
“They played really good against Man City, but not only against Man City,” the Croatian said.
“A few of their moves, especially in the first half, were top-class, which doesn’t surprise me because up front they have top-quality internationals.
“Shaqiri was in Bayern Munich and Inter and the top clubs were fighting for him. [Stoke] got him and it’s a big credit to Mark Hughes that they got him.
“The same happened with Krkic two years ago, then they have Arnautovic who is also top-class. I am impressed, of course, and it’s going to be a very difficult game for us, but we are good as well.”
Key Opta stats:
– Stoke have scored just six goals in their last 10 Premier League away trips and conceded just nine.
– Arnautovic has scored as many goals in 14 Premier League games this season (five) as in 59 league appearances in 2013-14 and 2014-15 combined.
– West Ham have won just two of their last eight Barclays Premier League home games (W2 D3 L3)
– Stoke’s Premier League games have seen just 27 goals scored this season – fewer than any other club.