Bournemouth-Stoke City Preview
Stoke City will look to pick up the pieces against Bournemouth at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday.
The Potters (2-2-4) were smashed by Manchester City last weekend, with Mark Hughes' side made to look like they had feet of clay by the Citizens' vibrant attacking line in the 7-2 loss.
It was a miserable afternoon for Hughes and his men, and the Stoke manager was quick to take partial responsibility for the extent of a defeat that leaves the club just one place above the relegation zone after falling for the third time in four matches.
"We hold our hands up and acknowledge that we didn't execute our game plan correctly, and I am as much to blame for that as the players," Hughes said. "They were quicker, stronger and anticipated things far quicker than us, and in the end we had no answers to the questions they posed to us.
"We aren't the first team that this has happened to (against City) and we certainly won't be the last, but the big disappointment for us was the way we allowed the goals to flow past us."
The margin of the defeat means that Stoke have now conceded 18 goals in eight matches - the joint-worst record in the league and a stat that reflects poorly on a club that used to be revered for its defensive prowess.
Such a weak start to the campaign adds yet more weight to the argument that Hughes has not helped the club progress during his tenure, but a visit from Bournemouth (1-1-6) offers hope of short-term redemption.
Only Crystal Palace are keeping Eddie Howe's misfiring side off the foot of the table, and that's by only one point. Bournemouth have found the back of the net just four times in eight matches, and not at all in the last two.
However, the young English manager says that his team is playing far better than the league position suggests.
"The first two games (defeats by West Bromwich Albion and Watford) were a real disappointment and we are probably getting punished for those games now in terms of the league position and how everyone's feeling," Howe said. "But I think in the past month, we have returned to somewhere near our best levels.
"The challenge is to not get lost in the hype and the feeling of losing, where you can suddenly think 'we have got to change everything' and come away from the things we have trusted and used so well down the years."
Injuries haven't helped Bournemouth's cause this season and the Cherries go into Saturday's game with plenty of doubts. Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Tyrone Mings all face late fitness tests, while goalkeeper Adam Federici remains out.
Stoke's Joe Allen remains a doubt with concussion, while Ryan Shawcross and Stephen Ireland are out.
Bournemouth took four points off Stoke last season, with a solitary Nathan Ake strike being enough to earn the Cherries all three points at the Bet365 Stadium.
Updated October 19, 2017