Stoke boss Mark Hughes sees this weekend’s trip to Southampton as a good barometer of his side’s progress.
Southampton have been lauded for their development since returning to the Barclays Premier League in 2012 – and they exceeded all expectations by finishing seventh under Ronald Koeman last season – while Stoke have advanced in Hughes’ two years in charge.
After a slow start to this season Stoke have started to hit form with four wins in their last six league games, including their 1-0 defeat of champions Chelsea last time out.
Hughes said: “We are playing some good stuff at the moment and are in good form. Southampton are in good form as well, so it is a good match-up. It will be a good test for us both to see where we are in terms of where our seasons are going.
“It will be a test, but every game in the Premier League is a test and we are up to most of them. We will look forward to it.”
Seventh-placed Southampton go into the game four points and five places above Stoke and they have scored almost twice as many goals as the Potters – 19 compared to 10. Stoke also head to the south coast having not won at Southampton since 1980 – although that statistic masks the fact there have only been 10 visits in that time, and there were none between 1985 and 2005.
Hughes is not concerned about any of that and is confident enough having lost just once in six away games this term, at Arsenal.
He said: “Our record there isn’t great but we’ve gone down there and got a good draw, I seem to recall.
“We know we can get positive results there and ideally we want to go there and get maximum points. We have got that capability.
“We are on a high. Our last performance against Chelsea was very good and our away form is good. That encourages us all.
“They are a good side, they have got a lot of good individual talent. They are good on the break but you can get at them. There will be opportunities for us I am sure.
“Confidence-wise we are in the right place to go to a place where we have not had a lot of luck. As long as we play as well as we did against Chelsea we will have a real good go against them.”