Sun | Apr 30, 2017

STOKE CITY VS SOUTHAMPTON

Published:Friday | April 17, 2015 | 4:00 AM

STOKE (4-2-3-1)

BEGOVIC, CAMERON, SHAWCROSS, WOLLSCHEID, WILSON, WHELAN, NZONZI, ATNAUTOVIC, ADAM, MOSES, WALTERS

SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1)

PELLE, MANE, S. DAVIS, LONG, SCHNEIDERLIN, WANYAMA, BERTRAND, YOSHIDA, FONTE, ALDERWIRELD, K. DAVIS

Southampton's quest for European football continues following their 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Hull City last weekend. That was the Saints' second win in three games, taking them up to fifth place. Though Liverpool leap-frogged them on Monday night with their win over Newcastle, the south coast club remains confident of reaching Europe.

If they were to qualify for the Europa League, it will be their first venture on the European continent since the 2003-04 season, when they qualified for the now-defunct UEFA Cup competition, but they are on the cusp of reaching that tournament's replacement, the Europa League.

Stoke, meanwhile, are without a win in four, though they halted a sequence of three straight defeats with a 1-1 draw at West Ham last Saturday, courtesy of a last-minute equaliser from Austrian midfielder Marko Arnautovic.

Stoke have lost six home games, the most of any team in the top 10 in the Premier League. Yet, they face a Southampton team whose 15 away games have produced just 27 goals (15 scored and 12 conceded), the fewest of any team in the top flight in English football. They will take comfort from the fact that the 12 conceded are also the fewest in the Premier League while, overall, their 22 goals conceded are also the fewest in the table.

Stoke last beat Southampton in February 2008, in the Championship; they last beat them in top-flight football in October 1980. Since then, the teams have met 14 times, with Stoke losing seven and drawing seven. Indeed, five of the last six league meetings have ended in draws - including four of the last five in the Premier League. That sequence ended back in October when Sadio Mane got Saints' winner in a 1-0 victory.