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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Stoke's Premier League struggles should continue

Lively Leicester can bank maximum points

Leicester's Jamie Vardy celebrates his goal against Sheffield United
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Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League/Mix, 12.30pm Saturday

Steady Stoke have been Premier League regulars since returning to the big time in 2008 but the Potters look in a spot of bother this season and could be sucked further into trouble after the trip to Leicester.

Only a win will move Paul Lambert's men outside the relegation zone, and while every team in the bottom half will be feeling nervous given the congested table, Stoke have more to fear than most.

Never finishing lower than 14th since coming up, their top-flight status is now in serious danger and they are still to play Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Saturday Premier League previews

Watford v Everton

Bournemouth v Newcastle

Brighton v Swansea

Burnley v Southampton

Liverpool v West Ham

West Brom v Huddersfield

Crystal Palace are the only bottom-half team yet to visit the bet365 Stadium so Stoke seem likely to need an improvement on their travels to remain a Premier League club, which does not bode well.

The Potters have won only once away from home this season and that 1-0 victory at Watford remains their sole road clean sheet, while they were knocked out of both cup competitions at lower-league opponents.

Stoke's other problem apart from travel sickness is their inability to keep teams at bay despite collecting home clean sheets against powder-puff Watford and Huddersfield in recent weeks. 

City have still conceded a league-high 53 goals which possibly leaves a question over goalkeeper Jack Butland, one of those hopeful of making England's number one spot his own at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

On expected goals Butland should be doing better and in turn so should Stoke but he isn't, while Xherdan Shaqiri remains their leading scorer with six. Peter Crouch is injured and if Saido Berahino fails to find the net at the King Power Stadium he will hit an unwanted anniversary of two years without scoring.

Only 11 away goals have been notched and desperate times could call for desperate measures with teenage forward Tyrese Campbell, son of former Arsenal man Kevin, tipped to be in the squad.

Campbell has scored 17 times for Stoke's Under-23 team this season, including a hat-trick last week, and joined the Potters after becoming frustrated with the lack of chances at Manchester City.

It's a gamble which may pay off, however, Leicester have Jamie Vardy at the other end and the England man has scored in eight of his last 11 matches. Campbell has potential but Vardy is proven.

Leicester have been idling in the league but their recent sloppy results have come when Riyad Mahrez refused to play.

Mahrez has been reintegrated into the side and was sublime in last week's FA Cup win over Sheffield United when he assisted Vardy for the winner. More of the same is anticipated.

1pt 3-4 Hills

Premier League standings

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Team news
Shinji Okazaki is Leicester's only absentee.

Peter Crouch and Stephen Ireland are out, but Bruno Martins-Indi returns to the squad.

Key stat
Stoke have lost all seven of their away matches against teams currently in the top half.

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Stoke have lost all seven of their away matches against teams currently in the top half
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