Belfast Telegraph

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: Our 3-4-3 formation was inspired by Wales' Euro 2016 run

Stoke are the latest Premier League team to implement a 3-4-3 formation that Mark Hughes has revealed was inspired by Wales' run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Top-flight leaders Chelsea have won eight straight games since Antonio Conte deployed a variation on the system the Potters adopted to great effect in last weekend's win at Watford, who themselves operate with similar tactics.

Hughes' hand had been forced somewhat by injuries and suspension then, yet he continued with that team for the game against Burnley as Stoke recorded a 2-0 victory to move up to ninth in the table.

Rather than insisting it was reactionary in the light of Chelsea's recent run, Hughes has confirmed it was seeing the merits of his country's three centre-back system in France that convinced him the formation could work with his own team.

Asked if he was encouraged by Conte's style, Hughes said: "That's not the reason we did it. It was more shaped by how Wales played in the summer rather than Chelsea.

"I think it is one that's got value - we've got six Premier League points playing it.

"It is something that we felt might be an option for us. We've worked on it in the summer and not too many were convinced by it but we felt there might be certain games where we could benefit from that shape so it was important to do that work.

"We have just revisited that shape and what we are trying to do with it in recent weeks and that has helped to back up what we did in the summer and that's why we have been looking quite comfortable with it."

It will be fascinating to see if Hughes reverts to type - his 4-2-3-1 formation - when visiting Arsenal next given Stoke have lost every one of their eight Premier League visits to the Emirates Stadium.

And, while Stoke may be buoyed by back-to-back successes, the Gunners are flying high too having dispatched West Ham 5-1 on Saturday thanks to an Alexis Sanchez hat-trick.

Nevertheless, it is a trip that holds no fear for Xherdan Shaqiri, who is confident the Potters can record their first win at Arsenal in 35 years.

"We have a difficult game against Arsenal but we go there to achieve something and we know we have the quality to win," the Switzerland playmaker said.

"We can win every game. We go there to try and take three points."

Burnley are a team that know all about dreadful away form, though theirs is not confined to a specific part of north London, with Sean Dyche's side yet to win on the road in six attempts this term.

Having taken 13 points from a possible 24 at home, the contrasting fortunes between games in east Lancashire and matches away from Turf Moor continues to be a talking point.

"There's not really much difference - when you're on the pitch, you don't think about it," defender Michael Keane said.

"We go into every game treating it exactly the same. Maybe it's a bit of a mentality thing once you concede a goal, but we changed that on Saturday. I don't think our heads dropped at all. I think we just need to carry that on."

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