Mark Hughes

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Mark Hughes wants Stoke City to “suck it up”

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Mark Hughes is under fire at Stoke City with the Potters firmly entrenched in the relegation battle, and with that he’s charging his players, staff, and himself to gut the rest of the season out.

With Stoke heading to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, they sit just three points above the drop. The players were faced with jeers from angry fans at the train station following this past weekend’s 5-1 disaster against Tottenham. The fiery Hughes is hoping to use this jarring moment to jolt his squad.

[ PREVIEW: Tuesday’s Premier League action ]

“That is still resonating. It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably, and they can use it as a motivating factor,” said Hughes during his pre-match press conference.

“You either suck it up and do ­something about it or you go under, and we can’t accept players like that. I don’t feel we have players like that.”

With managers nowadays often reaching into the excuses barrel as they hope to save their own skins, Hughes refuses to do just that, instead placing the decision firmly on the players shoulders, telling them they are the only ones who can save the club.

“Maybe some hadn’t ­confronted that before – but sometimes you need a reality check, and understand how our results and ­performances affect people,” Hughes said. “When people criticize you, you have to grow a thick skin in this industry. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong place.”

Premier League preview: Tottenham vs. Stoke City

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  • Stoke City defender Bruno Martins Indi could be out for up to eight weeks after suffering a groin injury against Swansea City. Geoff Cameron (concussion) is available again but Jese Rodriguez will not travel to London because of personal reasons.
  • Tottenham Hotspur will be without the suspended Davinson Sanchez, while Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are injured.
  • Tottenham Hotspur has won each of its last three Premier League matches against Stoke City all by a 4-0 scoreline, no side in top-flight history has won four consecutive matches by four or more goals. Tottenham has lost only one of its last seven home matches against Stoke City.

Tottenham is looking to snap out of a four-game winless skid in the Premier League when it hosts Stoke City Saturday at Wembley Stadium. (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side hasn’t won in league action since the start of November, with the recent slide beginning with the 2-0 London Derby defeat to Arsenal. At the same time, Tottenham has been superb in the UEFA Champopns League, finishing atop the group after a 3-0 win over APOEL last Wednesday.

[READ: Premier League TV, streaming schedule]

Stoke City on the other hand is coming off its first win in five games with a 2-1 result over Swansea City last weekend. American centerback Geoff Cameron is also back in action for the Potters, which is a big lift ahead of a massive road game. Three points for Stoke City puts them into the top 10 of the Premier League.

What they’re saying

Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino on defensive options after losing Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez: “We finished at Watford with Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen (in central defence) and then we have Juan Foyth and different options. Ben Davies can play like a centre-back, Serge Aurier can play like a centre-back, he played there before for Paris St. Germain in that position, so we have plenty of options to use. I’m not concerned.”

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes on playing Tottenham at Wembley Stadium: “There is a perception that they haven’t done too well at Wembley, but they demolished Real Madrid not too long ago. Teams are setting their stall out this year against them and that has affected them. Whenever we went up against them we always thought it was the toughest game for us – for whatever reason they always cause us problems. We will be looking to address that, so we have to be better and be tougher to beat than we have done in the past. Some of the players from those previous matches aren’t with us anymore, we have a different make up of the squad now, we shape up differently, so those previous results won’t affect us this weekend. We just need to try and affect the game in a positive manner. A number of the guys have played at Wembley before and others haven’t but we are emphasizing the fact that it is a Premier league game. I will leave the guys to decide how they approach it, as long as they aren’t out there with cameras taking photos and the like, I will leave them to deal with it how they see fit.”

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Prediction: Tottenham will break its four-game slide with a powerful performance. Harry Kane and Christen Eriksen return to their best form, and Spurs leaves with a 3-1 win, despite some defensive worries. Stoke City misses a chance to move into the top 10. Tottenham 3-1 Stoke City

Jese disciplined for walk-out, granted personal leave by Stoke

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Jese Rodriguez has been disciplined, in an undisclosed manner, by Stoke City after the Spanish striker left the bench and stadium upon being an unused substitute during last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Swansea City.

[ MORE: Key battles in this weekend’s Manchester derby ]

With 20 minutes left to go in the game, manager Mark Hughes made his second and third substitutions in tandem — Ibrahim Afellay and Ramadan Sobhi replaced Darren Fletcher and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting — at which point Rodriguez, out of frustration, walked down the tunnel and left the bet365 Stadium.

Asked this week whether or not Rodriguez, who has made just two short appearances as a sub in the last six weeks, has apologized to Hughes and the rest of the squad, the Potters’ boss believes the player’s heart is in the right place and that the apology is understood, and accepted, without necessarily being spoken — quotes from the BBC:

“He made a mistake. He’s been disciplined for that. He understands it wasn’t the right decision at that time.”

“Not in so many words because his English isn’t great but he understands that it was incorrect.

“It’s been addressed, we’ve obviously highlighted what he needs to do in the future. He’s a little bit frustrated, he wants to play, as all players do.”

According to the BBC, Rodriguez has also been granted conditional leave in order to travel home to the Canary Islands and be with his son who was born prematurely, in June. As a result, he will be unavailable for Saturday’s trip to Wembley Stadium to take on Tottenham Hotspur (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Hughes still fuming at call, thinks Atkinson should be suspended

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Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is still angry with a call from midweek, and rightly so.

His Potters lost 3-0 to Liverpool, but Hughes and many others believe it could’ve been much different had referee Martin Atkinson sent off Simon Mignolet for taking down Mame Biram Diouf.

Atkinson clearly saw the play, which earned Mignolet a yellow card despite being the last man back. The rulebook allows for the foul to not be a sending off if the foul was an accident.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL predictions | TV, stream schedule for the weekend ]

It wasn’t an accident:

He had to, which means Atkinson had to send him off. Mistake.

And now Hughes, certainly someone whose playing history would make the enjoyment of a result versus Liverpool extra special, wonders why Atkinson isn’t suspended in Mignolet’s place.

From the BBC:

“I don’t see why he should be refereeing this weekend,” he added. “My feelings reflect everybody else’s view: the referees who reviewed it since and everybody in the stadium, apart from one. Those are the decisions that frustrate me as a manager – and other managers.”

Fair? I think so.

PL Preview: Brighton vs. Stoke City

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  • Stoke leads all-time 16W-14D-9L
  • First league meeting since 2006
  • Potters have won last 8 in series

Brighton and Hove Albion meets Stoke City for the first time in Premier League history when the two battle at the Amex Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Brighton is unbeaten in its last four PL matches, with a pair of away wins and two draws at home.

They’ve been led at the back end by Shane Duffy and in attack by Pascal Gross, but it’s been a well-traveled Premier League veteran filling the goals. Glenn Murray has historic motivation to keep scoring, knowing that a marker versus Stoke would make him the first Brighton player to ever score a goal in four successive top flight matches.

Stoke followed up its win over Watford with a draw against Leicester City. The Potters have two goals and four assists from Swiss attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, and three and one from Senegalese scorer Mame Biram Diouf.

What they’re saying

Brighton’s Chris Hughton on bagging wins“For a club like us to get back-to-back wins would show the level we are playing at. It’s tough. I remember being told by somebody with one of the promoted teams that they didn’t get their first away win until February-March. That can happen and it’s exactly the same for a team getting promoted to get back-to-wins. They are hard to come by. Any way we are able to do that would certainly be a major boost for us.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes on Xherdan ShaqiriHe is taking on more the role of the main instigator of our attacking threat. When he gets the ball, I think the whole team responds to that. You sense that maybe something’s going to happen. And I think the crowd sends it as well. And I know opposition team sense it too.”

Prediction

Few matches are more of a toss-up than this one, and there’s no recent match-ups on which to rest our heads. So we’ll side with the home team managing a point, and maybe a pair of old-timer goals from Murray and Peter Crouch, in a 1-1 draw.