Stoke City boss Mark Hughes feels his side’s recent performances show they are back on track – but has emphasised nothing but a win will really do against bottom-two rivals Sunderland today.
The Potters halted a run of four Premier League defeats by drawing their last two games, only being held 1-1 by West Brom due to a stoppage-time equaliser and then securing a point at Manchester United.
“We have been really encouraged with our performances the last couple of games and everyone can see we are getting back to our levels,” Hughes said.
“We had a huge result at Old Trafford with a good, confident performance and we are back on track now, in our view.
“This is one we need to win and feel we can win. I am more than confident we have the capability in the team to do that.
“It will be difficult, because Sunderland are in a situation they don’t want to be in. But we’re the home side, and I think the onus is on us to make sure we are positive.
“We encouraged the fans with the nature of our performance against West Brom. We were very unlucky not to get a first win then, conceding late on.
“The overall feeling after that was we are going in the right direction.”
Hughes added: “The key is to build on the confidence we have shown and make sure we get maximum points – then I think we will very quickly build our season.
“With the period we have now, leading towards Christmas, we have a good opportunity to get a lot of points on the board.”