Stoke to make changes in bid to reach next level
Stoke boss Tony Pulis already has his sights set on a summer of change providing the club can retain their place in the Barclays Premier League this season.
Since promotion to the top flight in 2008, Pulis has consistently talked about a three-year plan, one that reaches its conclusion at the end of May.
If Stoke can attain over the next three months the seven points seemingly required to remain in the Premier League, taking them to the 40-point mark, Pulis will undoubtedly hail the plan a rousing success.
Stoke finished 12th at the end of year one, 11th at the end of year two, and at present stand 10th and have reached the sixth round of the FA Cup for the second successive season.
Throw in the fact City spent a club record £8million for a player last summer, namely Kenwyne Jones, and the progression is there for all to see.
Now Pulis is ready to take Stoke to the next level as he said: "If we stay up this year there will be lots of changes.
"They won't be massive, but certainly changes within the club and the group which will enable to push on again.
"It's not a case of shaking it up, it's about being solid enough so if things did go a bit wobbly, we would be able to maintain the progress and stability we've built over the previous three years.
"If you look at the money that is spent at the top end of the table you have to be very careful how you go about things, and you have to do it over a period of time.
"We can't go out and do what Kenny (Dalglish) has done at Liverpool and spend £60-70million on two players, and we can't do what Chelsea have done and spend £90million on two players.
"So we have to do it a different way, which is over a period of time, instead of instantly."
Pulis recognises there is still a gulf, however, as he knows will be the case tonight when he takes his side to the Emirates Stadium to face an Arsenal side pushing for the title.
After witnessing their sensational victory in the Champions League over Barcelona last week, Pulis knows another performance like that from Arsenal and it will be a long, tough night for his players.
"In watching that game I can say we're not on their level, I think everybody accepts that," added Pulis.
"So we just have to go there and do our best, and that's what we'll do.
"We have to be switched on. It's a game we know will be very, very difficult, even if we play at our best. If we don't, then we're in trouble."
Asmir Begovic returns in goal ahead of Thomas Sorensen, but winger Matthew Etherington is doubtful with a back injury.
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