David Moyes has warned his Sunderland side that coping with Peter Crouch’s aerial threat will be the key to victory at the Stadium of Light this afternoon.
Crouch has returned to the Stoke side recently and has two goals in his last two Premier League games. His form has been enough to earn an extension to his contract, which was due to expire in the summer.
Moyes said he has been impressive and warned his defence that they may have to be prepared for a physical battle.
Stoke’s style has softened somewhat in recent years, but, with results on the wane this season, Mark Hughes has in recent weeks turned to experience and brawn in a bid to move up the table.
Moyes said of Crouch: “He’s done well. I’ve watched them live the last couple of games and him and Walters, it’s a wee bit back to the old-fashioned Stoke.
“I think they’ll use Peter Crouch with lots of balls up, lots of aerial challenges. But they’ve also got another team in Arnautovic, Bojan, Shaqiri, players who play a different way. But, in the games I’ve seen them, it’s been Crouch and Walters with a 3-5-2.
“I think Peter Crouch has had a big an impact as anyone in their team the games I’ve seen, everybody has played against him and knows about him.” The Sunderland boss said Crouch could ‘definitely’ have an impact on his team selection.
Stoke will be without Jonathan Walters – he is due to undergo minor knee surgery. They will also be without Mame Biram Diouf, who is part of Senegal’s Africa Cup of Nations squad in Gabon. Bojan is also missing through injury, the prodigious Spaniard heavily linked with a move to Middlesbrough in recent days.
It means that Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay are likely to start for the Potters, who are looking to end their wretched run of form on Wearside.
Stoke have not won in their last 12 trips and Moyes hopes to keep that run going.
He said: “Let’s hope that doesn’t come to an end, and the run keeps on going.
“We’ll try to use it to our advantage. Hopefully they won’t feel great coming up here to play, and maybe we can get a result from it.”