Stoke City’s Steven N’Zonzi hopes for further improvement on last season

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Stoke City midfielder Steven N’Zonzi hopes the club can improve on last season’s ninth place finish as the Potters head into the last third of the season.

Stoke are currently 10th in the Premier League, four places and nine points better off than this time last season.

N’Zonzi, 26, said: “We’d like to finish better than last season, so we have improved as a team and for the club it is important to improve the points and the position of the team, for the club that would be great.”

The Frenchman was appearing alongside team-mate Marko Arnautovic for the Comic Relief Toyota Auris Challenge, which was being launched at the Britannia Stadium.

The Austrian international, 25, shared N’Zonzi’s hope for improvement but wasn’t getting carried away with Stoke’s league position.

He said: “I think last year and this year we’ve done well, I think our target is to always be in the top ten, we are there now and we want to defend our place.

“If possible of course we want to go higher, but we don’t focus on which place we are, we focus on every game and performance and at the end of the season we will see where we are.”

Stoke’s win at Villa Park was their first victory this month coming off a draw against Newcastle and back-to-back 4-1 defeats to Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, the latter eliminating them from this year’s FA Cup.

Nigerian loanee Victor Moses scored a last-gasp penalty to beat Villa, a win both players described as “important.”

N’Zonzi, who played the full 90 minutes, said: “It was a great win away from home especially after those two losses to Blackburn and Manchester City.

“It was important for the team to get a result there and it was a great result for the team.”

Both players also expressed the importance of charity at the event, which was raising money for this year’s Comic Relief on Friday March 13.

The event, which involved the players having fun playing football in new Toyota Auris’, was to promote the new red nose, which is available for your car.

N’Zonzi said: “It’s always great you know, it’s for charity, as long as we can help people, that’s why we’re here, not only just to play football but to help the kids, that’s great.”

Kelvin Sanders, Toyata UK, said: “I think it’s personally very important to see the players enjoying something other than football, so today they’ve been driving cars and having a bit of fun.

“It’s also important so youngsters can see it’s not just about the football, it’s about social responsibility.

“Hopefully some of the youngsters will aspire to be professional footballers and aspire to raise money for charity, too.”

View our special video report by StaffsLive’s Grainne Mullen, below:

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