Inconsistent Stoke City will be aiming to put in a 90-minute performance and collect a third straight home win in the league as they host in-form West Ham United on Saturday.
Too often this season, the Potters have been slow starters, and that was again in evidence in both of their recent meetings with Southampton. In the Premier League game on the South coast, they were toothless in attack throughout and only threatened sporadically after half time.
They made a better fist of it at home in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday after finding themselves two goals down at half time, but still ended up losing it late on. And with their opponents here performing so strongly of late, they cannot afford to be sluggish early on.
Despite their good form, many were still to be convinced by West Ham ahead of their clash with Manchester City, so the victory they achieved and more-so the performance they delivered proved a point and showed how strong they have become in recent weeks.
Striker Diafra Sakho has become a Hammers record breaker, but the influence of Alexandre Song has not gone unnoticed, and he looks set to be a crucial lynchpin in the coming months. Possible qualification has even been given the odd mention.
Phil Bardsley and Peter Crouch are both out suspended for Stoke, with Glenn Whelan and Peter Odemwingie still absent through injury.
West Ham have Andy Carroll back in training but the big striker is unlikely to play a part. Sakho is hoping to shake off a knock in time to play.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Stoke