WOODGATE HAILS SWANSEA APPROACH
Jonathan Woodgate believes Stoke will play a better passing team than European conquerors Valencia when they welcome Swansea to the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.
Brendan Rodgers' side have been one of the surprise packages of the Barclays Premier League season, staying well away from the bottom three and earning numerous plaudits for their style of play.
The match comes three days after Stoke's 1-0 defeat by Valencia at the Mestalla, which sent the Spaniards through to the last 16 of the Europa League with a 2-0 aggregate win, and Woodgate is hoping the clash will have prepared them well for Sunday's encounter.
The former England defender said: "We have a big game on Sunday and we need to win it.
"Swansea are similar to Valencia. They play just as much football as them, in fact they even pass the ball a bit more than Valencia. We should be used to that now and it should be a good game.
"They (Swansea) have been first class. The way they have played their football and got to where they are is a credit to them. They had more possession than Arsenal, and they beat them - that is some job."
Both sides have been on their travels since their last Premier League games two weeks ago but the circumstances could hardly have been more different.
Swansea took advantage of a lengthy break to head to Tenerife for a training camp while Stoke have played both legs of their Europa League tie and travelled to Crawley for an FA Cup fifth-round clash last weekend.
The visitors also make the trip to the Britannia knowing they have won the last four encounters between the sides, including a 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture in October.
The Potters, meanwhile, are looking to arrest a run of four straight league defeats that has seen them drop to 13th in the table, below Sunday's opponents on goal difference.
One man who is very much hoping to be in the side on Sunday is Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
The Dane reclaimed the number one jersey from Asmir Begovic in November, with the Bosnia international having to make do with domestic cup and European games.
But boss Tony Pulis surprisingly selected Sorensen for Thursday's game in Valencia, although he insisted after the match that did not mean Begovic would necessarily start on Sunday.
Sorensen said: "I want to be playing on Sunday. I will be very disappointed if I don't. I don't think I could have done anything more (against Valencia) and that's all you can do when you get the chances."
Despite the uncertainty, he was pleased to be picked for the Mestalla clash, saying: "These are the sort of games you want to be playing in, so I was delighted."
Sorensen's inclusion was far from the only talking point in Pulis' selection, with the likes of Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Matthew Etherington not even travelling to Spain, and the keeper admitted it came as a surprise to the players.
"With us still being in three competitions, he had to make sure he could get the best out of everyone in every competition," said Sorensen of the Potters boss. "I don't want to be in his shoes. We were a bit surprised, but it worked okay."
With an FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool at Anfield to look forward to next month, Sorensen has set his sights on two victories from back-to-back home games against Swansea and Norwich to steady the league ship.
"We need a win," he said. "We have two home games against two of the promoted sides who have done really well, but we need to get some momentum going and, on paper, we need six points just to calm things down and get the confidence back up. Then I am sure we can go from there."
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