TEAM NEWSStoke are hampered by a shortage of defensive options, with Bruno Martins Indi and Ryan Shawcross both injured.Kevin Wimmer and Geoff Cameron are doubts because of hamstring problems but Kurt Zouma is available after being ineligible to face Chelsea last week.Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino could hand Virgil van Dijk his first start of the season having been restored to the bench in recent weeks.
Matt Targett has returned to training but is unlikely to be risked.MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTESMartin Fisher: “Stoke’s central defensive injury crisis might just be what Southampton need to help them address their chronic goal shortage.”Saints have failed to score in four of their six games this season, and two of the goals they have scored have come from the penalty spot.”The likes of Shawcross, Cameron, Wimmer and Martins Indi have all been in the treatment room recently. Another enforced patched-up rearguard could impinge on Mark Hughes’s prospects of ending Stoke’s winless run of four matches.”Another defeat could see them drop into the relegation zone but will Southampton be firing blanks yet again?”Twitter: @mfisherfootballWHAT THE MANAGERS SAYStoke manager Mark Hughes: “I don’t think our current position truly reflects how well we’ve performed against some tough opposition at the start of the season.”Saturday will be a difficult game but given what we’ve faced so far at home it’s one we can look forward to and enjoy.”Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino on his side’s lack of goals: “It’s not about more strikers, wingers or pushing the full-backs higher – it’s just about quality in the final third.”Goals complete your job as a striker, and I can highlight all of them. We need all our offensive players to be better in the final third.”LAWRO’S PREDICTIONSouthampton played well against Manchester United last weekend and almost nicked a point but I am expecting an improvement from Stoke (after defeat to Chelsea), which is why I am backing them to win this one.Prediction: 2-1Lawro’s full predictions v Foo Fighters guitarist Chris ShiflettThink you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our Predictor gameMATCH FACTSHead-to-headStoke have won three of their last five matches against Southampton, losing just one.Peter Crouch, once of Southampton, scored the only goal as Stoke won 1-0 when the sides last met in May.Ten of Southampton’s 11 Premier League goals against Stoke have been scored in the first half. Stoke CityStoke’s tally of five points after six matches is their third worst start since they returned to the top flight a decade ago. Mark Hughes’ side have only won three of their last 16 Premier League games, losing nine.They are winless in five league and cup games, losing their last three.The Potters have scored only one first-half league goal so far, Choupo-Moting’s first strike in the 2-2 home draw against Manchester United.SouthamptonSouthampton have lost 11 league games in 2017 – as many as they lost in 2016, with 15 matches still to play.The Saints have failed to score in 10 of their last 14 league games and found the net just twice in seven matches in all competitions in 2017-18.Southampton could start the season with three successive away clean sheets.Manolo Gabbiadini scored four goals in his first three Premier League games but has managed just one more in his subsequent 14 outings.Virgil van Dijk has not started a Premier League fixture since Southampton’s 3-0 home win against Leicester on 22 January 2017.SAM’s verdictMost probable score: 1-1Probability of draw: 28%Probability of home win: 36%Probability of away win: 36%SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale at the University of Liverpool that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.
Source: BBC Hampshire