Stoke City defender Erik Pieters says they should embrace a tough schedule in the coming week.

Pieters insists a trip to Chelsea to follow up a trip to Liverpool should get the pulse racing for the right reasons.

He told The Sentinel: “It’s nice isn’t it? It’s nice. You want to play in the Premier League and these are the big games you want to play in.

“I don’t mind when we play any team. Whether you play them on the first game of the season or the last or Christmas and New Year, you have to play them – and me as a footballer I want to play against good teams and good players. That’s the challenge I want.

“If you don’t want to play against the big teams then go and play in a lower league.”