10 Mar Paul Lambert confident Stoke can avoid relegation
Paul Lambert has no doubt Stoke will emerge safe from the “incredible” Premier League relegation battle they are currently in if they continue to show the spirit and fight they have done under him so far.
The last round of top-flight fixtures left the Potters 19th in the table, a point adrift of 17th-placed Southampton – who they drew 0-0 with at St Mary’s – and only three worse off than Swansea in 13th.
Since boss Lambert took charge as Mark Hughes’ successor in January, Stoke have won only one of six games, but also lost just once.
The Scot said ahead of Monday’s home clash with leaders Manchester City: “The spirit among the players at the moment is very good and I think it shows, the way we try to play.
“Since I’ve been at the club it’s been excellent. I think there’s a really good spirit there, that they want to climb the table, and overall we’ve only been beaten once in six. We’ve had a lot of draws in there but at least the form at the moment is pretty decent.
“It’s incredible the way the table is and I think that’s the beauty about it.
“We’ve picked up points everywhere other than in the Bournemouth game (a 2-1 away loss) and we just need that little bit of luck at certain times.
“But if keep this spirit and this fighting attribute we’ve got, then we’ll be fine.”
Stoke had the division’s joint-highest goals against tally at the end of the last round of games, 54 conceded in 29 matches (the same as West Ham).
On Monday, they host a team who have the highest goals for total, 83, and who thrashed them 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium in October.
Pep Guardiola’s City have won 25 of their 29 league matches and lost only one.
The task Stoke face looks considerably daunting, but Lambert – who has seen the team concede only four times in the six outings under him – says he has ideas of how to “hurt” the table-toppers, and has stressed “on any given day you can win a game of football.”
He said: “We have to be really strong. We have to defend from the front, be strong in midfield and defence, and the goalkeeper is going to have to have a great game.
“But we also have to find a way we can hurt them. I have ideas in my head.
“Obviously we won’t have much of the ball, but when we do, we have to be ruthless with it and try to hurt them, and take them out of their comfort zone.
“On any given day you can win a game of football. In a one-off game you can win, and that is the beauty of football. We’ll do everything we can to try to win.
“If we try to play football the same way they do then we will be beat – that is the reality. We have to have an idea of another way to try to beat them.”