.

After Stoke’s dismal start to the season, Hughes has worked wonders to move the club into a place in the top half of the table, but he will now want his team to continue their progress and achieve eighth place by the end of May.

The signs are good, too, after the Potters responded from their 4-0 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur by picking up four points from games against Middlesbrough and Man City.

Their visit to the Etihad Stadium was expected to end in a convincing defeat but Stoke – who were superbly led by Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi – found a way to become one of the few teams to shut out City in front of their own supporters.

Stoke have had over a week to reflect on that performance and the extra few days’ rest can only benefit them as they welcome the Chelsea juggernaut to Staffordshire at the weekend as they look to extend their unbeaten run to three matches.

Hughes will accept that they are the underdogs, but there will be an inner belief within his squad that they can cause the upset and the performance of Marko Arnautovic is likely to be key, despite the Serbian not enjoying his greatest season in terms of goals.

Sadio Berahino also delivered an encouraging performance on his first start for the club against City, and it would be a huge boost to the January signing if Hughes gave him a second chance to net his first goal as a Stoke player.