Date: 27th August 2011 at 11:07am
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Stoke head to West Brom tomorrow in the hope of grabbing their first win of the new season.

The Potters should be in a buoyant mood ahead of the clash after Thursday’s thumping win in the Europa League against FC Thun.

Vital Quotes: The Managers

West Brom under Roy Hodgson are a different proposition nowadays, not only do they have quality going forward but their previous defensive frailties have been addressed.

Tony Pulis is under no illusions about the game, he told The Sentinel:

‘It will be a tough game against West Brom, we know that.

‘They have had another season in the Premier League and they have a very good manager.

‘Roy is an experienced person who I have great respect for. If you look at the clubs he has been to and what he has done, the Liverpool experience would only have made him stronger.

‘He is in his sixties now, but still has that desire to be successful. I think he has picked a good football club who are run on very similar lines to ourselves in lots of respects.

‘I think he has made some good signings and they have some good players there.

‘The thing that Roy will do is put a playing structure in place that everyone will understand. They will be difficult to beat.’

Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson told he wants to ‘rip up’ the record book when his team take on the Potters :

‘It is a statistic that the club can’t be proud of but it also says a lot about Stoke City and how well they’ve done against West Brom,’ he said.

‘I’ve only had one game against them since I’ve been here and I thought we did quite well.

We drew 1-1 and came very close to winning the game at the end.

‘I prefer to regard that as a very positive result as Stoke is a notoriously difficult place to go and win points – but we achieved that.

‘We are also fully aware that statistics are there to be ripped up and it would be very good if we can rip up that statistic and make it certain that we get a result on Sunday.’

Commenting on Stoke, the 64-year-old said :

‘They’ve had two very good results against Thun and two very good results in the league.

‘They’ve started the season in magnificent form.

‘They’ve made some good signings and once again improved their team – not just their squad.

‘So we’re expecting a very tough game from them because we respect them very much for what they’ve achieved so far and are capable of doing.’

West Brom Team News:

Roy Hodgson has a fully-fit squad to choose from, with the exception of new-signing Zoltan Gera who is still sidelined with an ankle injury.

Player to watch: Shane Long

The 24-year-old has made a blistering start to his West Brom career, notching against Manchester United and away at Chelsea last week. The Stoke defence will have to be on their toes against the Irishman, who must be brimming with confidence.

Stoke City Team News:

Robert Huth & Matty Etherington missed Thursday’s victory over FC Thun because of suspension but both are expected to start tomorrow.

Rory Delap is still doubtful with a hamstring problem but Stoke will be hoping to name a full-strength side.

Player to watch: Glenn Whelan

The midfielder has been in and out of the Stoke starting line-up since the Potters promotion back in 2008, but recent performances are suggesting he could yet have a big part to play.

Ball retention(or lack of it) has been Stoke’s biggest downfall away from home, and Whelan along with the likes of Pennant and Etherington will be crucial on Sunday – the former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder will need to keep the ball effectively, protect the defence and help launch counter attacks for the Potters.

Match Facts : The Indian Sign

Stoke have won 7 of the last 9 encounters between the two clubs and have only lost ONCE in the last 27 meetings.

The last time the Baggies managed to beat the Potters was September 2003, when Scott Dobie grabbed the only goal of the game at the Hawthorns.

Ref Watch:

Mike Dean will referee sunday’s game – it will be his third Barclays Premier League match of the season and he’s never too far away from controversy.

Match Prediction:

It should be a very tight game, incredibly difficult to predict but I think Stoke will have enough to beat the Baggies.

Many believe the Europa League matches will have tired Stoke out, but I think it’ll only help match fitness so early on in the season, the Potters will be tested but it’s Stoke at the Hawthorns – we always find a way.

West Brom 0-1 Stoke

Next Fixtures: Liverpool(H)

Stoke entertain Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday 10th September.