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Inside Info: speaking to a Stokie

We chew the fat with a Stoke fan ahead of today's clash at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke 'keeper Asmir Begovic scored in Saints' last Premier League visit to the Britannia.
Stoke 'keeper Asmir Begovic scored in Saints' last Premier League visit to the Britannia.
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Southampton have already made a trip to Stoke this season - a game I only saw ten minutes of. Still, we won a 3-2 thriller with Graziano Pelle netting a last-gasp winner. With Pelle finding the net last week, can he do it again today?

Matt Wheatley hopes not. Wheatley is a die-hard Stoke fan and has seen the Saints beat his team twice this season. Here is what he has had to say about his beloved Potters and Southampton.

St. Mary's Musings: With the season winding down, where do you think Stoke will finish? How does this compare to how you thought the season would go?

Matt Wheatley: I think that finishing 9th is very realistic. To be honest, I thought that we would finish in a similar position to last season so I can't complain at all. There was a point in the season where we were struggling to win games that we should do at home: that was frustrating. But, equaled out by wins that I would never have dreamed of (Man City away).

SMM: Are you happy with the progress being made under Mark Hughes?

MW: I'm sure I speak for the majority of stoke fans when I say I'm very happy with the progress we are making. We are so much better in possession of the ball. In the earlier stages of the season, we looked fragile at the back which was worrying. Constant injuries haven't helped there, though. <!-- ######## START FLOATED VIDEO SNIPPET ######## -->

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But still, that's something whcih seems to have been addressed anyway and we look much more sturdy. I'm genuinely excited for the return of Bojan and the fresh faces that will be brought in this summer.

SMM: Who is Stoke's key man today?

MW: I would love nothing more than to be sitting here saying how much I was looking forward to watching Bojan again at the weekend, but that isn't the case due to his injury.

I'd say our key man is Steven N'Zonzi. He is a classy player: good on and off the ball and can mix it with the best. He has the ability to control a game and I hope that is what we see on Saturday.  I'd like to see Marko Arnautovic take some confidence into this game after his last-second equaliser last week. He too has bags of potential, but we are still to see the best of him. His first touch is sensational.

SMM: Who do you think is Saints' key man today?

MW: I know he hasn't been in the best of form over the recent weeks, and it may seem like the obvious answer, but Graziano Pelle has scored just in time to take some confidence into the game against us. In the games we have played against you - both in the league and in the cup - he has been an absolute handful for our defence.

I just hope we can keep him quiet this weekend.

SMM: What is your favourite Stoke chant?

MW: I think you would be hard pushed to find a Stoke fan who doesn't say ‘Delilah' is their favourite stoke song. Other than that, I could make an endless list. It always amazes me how witty the Stoke fans are with their chants.

I must say that I like how we sing ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' in jest of our "rugby team' label granted to us by the one and only Mr. Arsene ‘Precious' Wenger: I think it sums up the good humour of our fans, too.

SMM: If you could sell any player from Stoke's starting XI, who would it be and why?

MW: I said it the last time I spoke to you and I'll say it again: the one player I would get rid of is Bardsley. He hasn't been starting as much recently, which I'm glad about, but he would be the first player I would get rid of.

He's too much of a liability for me. Although, I must mention that he has had a couple of really good performances this season, most notably away at Man City.

SMM: If you could sign any Saints player, who would it be and why?

MW: If we were to be given one of your players I think I'd take Dusan Tadic. He's a really talented footballer and can make things happen. He looked dangerous all the times we have played you already this season and I think he would fit nicely into our team. He hasn't been playing as much for you recently has he, why's that?

SMM: Finally, what is your prediction for the match?

MW: I'm going to go with my heart for the prediction this time around and say 2-1 Stoke.