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Stoke City were absolutely ripped apart by a sensational Manchester City last weekend and manager Mark Hughes will be eager to put the memories of the 7-2 drabbing to bed by registering a win over AFC Bournemouth this weekend. The Potters take on the Cherries in a huge early-season relegation six-pointer and with just one position separating them, both the teams will be eager to come out on top and climb out of the drop zone.
Despite putting on a stellar show for England in the international break, Butland’s confidence took a massive toll at the Etihad last weekend where the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus ran riot. He will be eager to bounce back from the acrimonious defeat and help his side secure all 3 points and improve their league position.
Centre-backs: Kevin Wimmer, Austria; Geoff Cameron, United States and Kurt Zouma, France
The backline has been a severe headache for Mark Hughes and they have shipped in a total of 18 goals in the season thus far. Although Bournemouth have been drawing a blank in most games this season, their frontline of Jermain Defoe, Josh King and Benik Afobe has the firepower to cause severe damage and Stoke’s defenders will have to be on their toes if they are to contain the threat.
Right wing-back: Mame Biram Diouf, Senegal
Diouf has been in good form this season and has done well in the right wing-back position. He even has a goal and an assist to his name and played a pivotal role in Stoke’s win over Southampton before the international break. He will be looking to impress once again and put the bad memories of the City game away.
Centre midfield: Charlie Adams, Scotland and Darren Fletcher, Scotland
With Ryan Shawcross out due to a back injury and Joe Allen’s appearance a doubt following the head injury he suffered when featuring for Wales, Adams and Fletcher are probably going to feature in the midfield once again. The duo was completely overrun by David Silva and Fernandinho last weekend but against a lower quality opposition, they are likely to show a lot more grit and they might just help tilt the game in the home side’s favour.
Left wing-back: Erik Pieters, Holland
It has been a tough month for Erik Pieters as he was a part of the Dutch contingent who could not qualify for the World Cup 2018 and also being taken apart by a marauding Manchester City. He will be eager to start afresh with a good performance against Bournemouth who are susceptible to conceding from good crosses into the box.
Attacking midfield: Ramadan Sobhi, Egypt and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Cameroon
With Shaqiri out injured, the promising Ramadan Sobhi should start in his place. Choupo-Moting, on the other hand, netted a brace against United and will be looking to replicate that form again.
Striker: Jese Rodriguez, Spain
Despite linking up well with Shaqiri and Moting, Jese is yet to really announce himself on the shores of England. This could be the perfect stage for him though and he will look to score when he takes the field against the Cherries.