Queens Park Rangers-Stoke City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Winless Queens Park Rangers will be hoping to ease the pressure on manager Mark Hughes when they travel to the Britannia Stadium to play Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
Rangers have just four points from their opening ten games of the season, leading to speculation about the manager's future, but Hughes' assistant came out in support of the former Manchester United midfielder this week.
"In the last two days we had meetings, sat down and let individuals know in no uncertain terms it's unacceptable," said assistant manager Mark Bowen. "They held their hands up and took it on board and we will work at it to make sure we are better next time. We encouraged them to point a few fingers and put demands on them. I want them to be a bit more angry.
"People talk about Harry this and that," added Bowen in reference to speculation that Harry Redknapp may replace Hughes at the helm. "The fact is he took over at Southampton in 2005 as the big saviour and took them down. But when things go wrong, people say get Harry in."
Stoke have struggled this season and are just four points above the bottom three, but Tony Pulis is confident that his team will get back on track once they rediscover their ruthless streak.
"We have got to become more ruthless in the final third of the pitch," said Pulis at his weekly pre-match press conference. "We've had a good look at the statistics and they support the fact that our performances have been good in a lot of respects, apart from in the final third.
"If we're going to win matches, then we've got to improve in that area because we should have scored more goals in our Premier League matches so far. We've looked solid at the back, we've looked good going forward and we've created chances. But as we saw at Norwich, we're not making the most of them.
"It's important people stay nice and calm. As I've said many times before, you have to be level headed at all times. That means you don't get too carried away when things are going well, just as you don't get too downhearted when they're not so good. We have to make sure the players keep their confidence. They have trained really well this week and they're clearly determined to get out there and put on a performance which will hopefully deliver the right result for us against Rangers."
Stoke have just the one injury concern, with Marc Wilson out with a broken leg. QPR's Andrew Johnson is out for another four months, while Fabio and Ji-Sung Park are also injury doubts.
QPR did the double over Stoke last season, winning 3-2 at the Britannia. The Potters were the only team to lost twice to Rangers in the league last season.
Stoke haven't scored in 212 minutes of Premier League football - failing to find the back of the net in each of their last two games. No team in the league has scored fewer goals at home this season than Stoke's three. The Potters have managed the least shots, shots on target, corners and passes in the Premier League this season.
Rangers have lost 11 of their last 12 games away in the league and haven't won away since visiting this ground last season.