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Potters putting struggles behind them

Stoke City 2 Burnley 0

By Liam Blackburn

Defender Marc Muniesa has challenged Stoke to prove they belong in the Premier League's top half by finishing 2016 with a flourish.

After a slow start to the campaign in which they failed to win any of their opening seven fixtures, the Potters moved up to ninth on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Burnley, their fifth win in the past seven.

It is a more familiar spot for a team that have finished ninth in their previous three campaigns under Mark Hughes, suggesting their early season results were a blip rather than anything more indicative of a season of struggle.

However, with tricky trips to Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, and home games with Southampton and Leicester on the horizon before the new year arrives, Muniesa sees the month of December as a decisive one.

"We are ninth at the moment but now we know we have five tough games against top teams that will show us if we are strong enough to be there," the Spaniard said.

With Walters and Muniesa grabbing the goals too, it gives Hughes plenty to consider for next weekend's trip to Arsenal when the possibility of recalling Ryan Shawcross and Joe Allen will be on his mind.

"Now we are having chances, we are playing well and winning so we are making the decisions for the coach very difficult," added Muniesa.

But we have 25 squad players - every one can play on this team so it's good for us and the coach."

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