Stoke boss Mark Hughes keen to avoid another Tottenham drubbing
Mark Hughes admits he cannot rule out Stoke being thumped by Tottenham once again on Sunday.
But the Potters boss is confident his side are in much better shape now than the last time the teams met in terms of their chances of securing a positive result against Mauricio Pochettino's men.
Stoke have been thrashed 4-0 at home by Spurs in each of the last two meetings between the clubs.
The most recent came in September during a sequence in which Hughes' team failed to win any of their opening seven Premier League games of the season, losing four of them.
They head into this weekend's clash at White Hart Lane with their previous six league matches having featured three victories - including a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last time out - and only one defeat.
And Hughes said: "We have improved markedly since that game (in September).
"I would be very surprised if the result was the same - although there is a possibility, because they are a good side.
"But we'll have to make sure we play well to make sure that doesn't happen.
"I would imagine if we start brightly, then that is the key to it. Hopefully we'll be nice and bright, sharp and ready to go."
Stoke may well take encouragement from their recent record at Tottenham, which shows a 2-2 draw from early last term and a 2-1 victory on their visit in 2014-15.
"We had a good performance and result there last season and we need more of the same," Hughes added.
Third-placed Tottenham suffered their first defeat in 10 league games when they were beaten 2-0 at Liverpool on the same day as Stoke beat Palace - February 11.
Since then they have won 3-0 at Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round, with Harry Kane scoring a hat-trick, between two legs in the Europa League last 32 against Gent.
Spurs crashed to a 3-2 aggregate defeat to the Belgian side on Thursday as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Wembley, which saw midfielder Dele Alli sent off in the first half for a horror tackle on Brecht Dejaegere.
While Hughes has no doubt Alli deserved to be sent off, he does not envisage the 20-year-old's confidence suffering because of the incident and thinks Tottenham could well feel some benefits stemming from it come Sunday.
"It was a poor challenge and he was rightly sent off - I think everybody agreed with that," Hughes said of a player who, like Kane, has scored three times in the last two games between Stoke and Tottenham.
"Looking at it from a purely selfish point of view, he only played about 40 minutes so he's going to be fresh for our game.
"It is what it is. He's an outstanding young player who at times maybe goes into challenges that he shouldn't do.
"But a lot of players do similar things and he will learn from experience I'm sure."