Pulis pleased with Stoke start
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is happy with how his players have coped with what he feels is their toughest ever start to a Premier League season.
The Potters held league champions Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium last Saturday and on Saturday take on current league leaders and European champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Their other three league matches have seen them secure draws against Reading, Arsenal and Wigan and after facing Chelsea they host Swansea before travelling to Liverpool and Manchester United.
"We knew it was a tough start when we looked at it, it is probably the toughest start we have had in a Premier League season," said Pulis, who led Stoke into the top flight in 2008.
"We recognise that, understand it and get on with it, and I have been really pleased so far.
"I think the lads' application and approach to the games has been first class and we'll have to be the same again on Saturday."
Stoke are yet to earn a point in four trips to Stamford Bridge but Pulis is optimistic the duck could be broken this time.
"It would be lovely to get something from Stamford Bridge and we have come close a few times, but we have also had our backside slapped a few times as well," he said.
"If we go there, work hard and give it a crack and things go our way, you never know."
Michael Owen made his Stoke debut as a late substitute against Manchester City.
Pulis has been impressed by the 32-year-old former England striker's efforts in training, but suggested he does not want to make too many adjustments to the first XI.
He added: "There has been a lot said about what we are and are not going to do with Michael.
"He has trained brilliantly again this week, but the lads did smashing against Man City and it will be difficult to change it."
There will have to be at least one alteration however, with Andy Wilkinson starting a three-match ban after Stoke accepted the violent conduct charge brought against the defender by the Football Association after he caught Mario Balotelli in the face with an elbow.
Pulis said he was satisfied with the way the process had been handled, adding: "He's caught him; I don't think he has meant to, but he has without a question of a doubt."
Jermaine Pennant was among those absent from the matchday squad last Saturday and having stressed on Twitter he was not injured, the winger summed up his thoughts by writing: "I feel your frustration people, that's all I can say on the matter."
Asked if there was any issue with the player, Pulis - who has bolstered his squad with seven new signings since the end of last season - said: "No, he is fit and raring to go.
"It is the same with (striker) Kenwyne Jones, (midfielder) Rory Delap and people like that. They are ready to go and it is smashing that we have a strong squad and everybody is fighting for their places.
"The big thing this year, as much as trying to get results, will be trying to keep the players who are out of the squad happy.
"Over the past few years it is something I've had to get used to, and it's difficult because they all want to play, which is important."