Sunderland boss David Moyes believes Stoke City are in a false position ahead of the crunch bottom-of-the-table clash.
Both sides are yet to win a Premier League game this season, with Sunderland propping up the rest of the top flight.
Mark Hughes’ side have had an equally poor start to the campaign, with Stoke just a single point and one place better off than the Black Cats.
Moyes says Stoke have “too strong” a squad to be battling the drop this season and he expects them to start climbing the league table.
“I have no doubt Stoke will be fine come the end of the season,” said Moyes.
“They are a well-run club, with a good owner and I know the chief executive is very good too.
“They are a club that has been building, there has been a level of consistency there over the years, Tony Pulis gave them that when he was in charge.
“They now have Mark Hughes who has carried that on.
“They are a club that you look at and say maybe they won’t get to the top but I don’t see them being at the bottom come the end of the season.
“They are too strong for that.”
Sunderland are unbeaten in the last five Premier League meetings with Stoke, with three wins and two draws from the last five meetings.
Moyes’ side have performed better on the road this season but only have a single point to show for their efforts away from the Stadium of Light.
“In the position we are in, we will take any points we can get,” added Moyes.
“I want three points, of course, but on the road we have been quite hard to beat.
“We have been better away from home at times, certainly from a defensive point of view. We have to make sure we are strong on that front.
“We don’t know what they will throw at us. They have forward attacking options that are powerful.
“So we know we are going to have to defend well to get something from the game.
“I think they might make some changes. They might change their system.”
Sunderland pushed Manchester City all the way on the opening day of the season before a late Paddy McNair own goal led to a 2-1 defeat, while they were within five minutes of victory at Southampton.
The 1-0 scoreline didn’t reflect the Tottenham Hotspur game with Sunderland well beaten, but they bounced back away at QPR in the EFL Cup three days later.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say the performances have been better away but we have been close in the games,” added Moyes.
“Man City, we ran them close, while at Southampton we were leading until late on.
“At Tottenham, we may have got lucky with one or two things but Steven Pienaar had a great chance to make it 1-0 and then we lost that game.
“We went to QPR and won. There are signs that some of the stuff away from home has been easier to do than it has been at home. I hope that continues at Stoke.”