Dubai trips not a holiday for Stoke and Sunderland
Dubai breaks are "no jollies", according to Stoke City boss Mark Hughes and Sunderland coach Sam Allardyce, who have both brought their clubs to the emirate this week.
Neither English Premier League (EPL) side is in action this weekend as they are out of the FA Cup, so they have instead set up camp in Dubai. Sunderland will train at Dubai Sports City and Stoke are at Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex. But with both sides having only won once in the last five games - Stoke are 10th in the league and Sunderland are second from bottom - both coaches are highly sensitive to the suggestion that this will be a holiday.
"People might look at it and think it's a jolly, but that's not the case," said Hughes, whose side arrived in Dubai on Tuesday fresh from beating 15th placed Bournemouth 3-1 away on Saturday. Next up they face bottom-of-theleague Aston Villa at home on February 27.
"There are real benefits that we glean from trips of this nature. We did it last season and came back and had a great finish to the season. We're hoping that's going to be the case again this time. We'll have four or five days in Dubai.
It's an opportunity to review things. "It will be of particular benefit for Giannelli Imbula," he added of the Belgian midfielder, who joined the Potters from Porto for a club record £18.3 million in January. "Because it's a chance for him to real- ly get to know his new teammates, but I think the whole squad will benefit from it. "The trip has come at exactly the right time - we feel we can recuperate and recover and we're already looking forward to our next game against [Aston] Villa." Relegation-threatened Sunderland arrived in Dubai on Monday after beating Manchester United 2-1 at home on Saturday.