So after Stokes third season in the English Premier League, a comfortable 13th place finish, an FA Cup final appearance and qualification for the Europa League, it could be said that they had a pretty successful season. Indeed, if my team played in any major league apart from the SPL, I would be quite happy with that performance as well. But that’s not long enough for a statistical blog, so let’s delve into the finer points of their season.
First things first, 38 games played. Similar to 100% of all teams ever to play in the EPL, they completed all of their games. With a points average of just over 1.2points per game, Stoke City managed 13 (34.21%) wins – tied with Everton for the 7th most wins for the season; however they lost just under half (47.31%) of their games, with only Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackpool and West Ham United losing more in the season. They are also tied on the least number of draws with Liverpool and Wolves, with 7 draws apiece. By converting two of their losses or draws into wins, there was a possibility of finishing up to 5 places higher in the league table, with 4 extra points meaning leapfrogging Fulham into 8th places. They were also within 2 goals of overtaking Newcastle in 12th, while also being within 3 goals of losing 13th to Bolton.
Stoke kept 9 clean sheets throughout the season, their 48 goals conceded average out at just over 1.26 goals per game, with only the top 8 teams conceding less. In contrast, Stoke only scored 46 goals, with only 4 teams scoring less, and equal to Wolves and Blackburn – both finishing below them in the final table. In comparison, Newcastle, who finished one place above Stoke, scored 56 and conceded 57, so while a much better defensive record did them well, those 8 extra goals gave Newcastle the extra position.
Asmir Begovic was Stokes hero in goals, with 8 clean sheets from 28 games, whilst Thomas Sorenson kept 1 clean sheet from his 10 starts. In front of goal, Kenwyne Jones topped the scoring charts with 9 in the league, whilst Walters and Huth both came in on 6 apiece. Etherington, Pennent and Fuller all chipped in with 3 goals each for the formers, and 4 goals for the latter.
Total shots on goal is a weird one to look at. Stoke managed 360 total shots on goal – 142 on target and 218 off target, whilst league champions Manchester United managed 462 in total, 212 on target and 250 off target. In percentage terms, Stoke only converted 32.4% of their on target shots to goals, while Manchester United converted 36.8%. Overall many teams have a similar conversion rate, with Stoke nearer the bottom end of the table.
Other little stats that I, and probably only me, finds interesting include that Stoke had 4047 ‘possession duels’ throughout the season, winning 2035 and losing 2012. I’m not sure what a possession duel is, but I’d like to take part in one someday. They also managed to clear 5 shots off the line all season, had 13 last man tackles, and had a total of 446 throw ins, of which 3 were foul throws. Oddly, 443 were ‘accurate’, and I know Delap is good, but THAT good? Surely one went right over everyone for a goal kick.
So what do Stoke need this season? Goals and more goals. In my opinion? They need goals. There are plenty of options. As of an hour ago, the Carlton Cole deal is off, but with only 5 goals last season in the league, 11 altogether, he really isn’t the answer to Stokes problems. David Goodwillie, currently at Dundee United in the SPL, and Nickia Jelavic of Rangers are two strikers who could certainly do a job in the EPL. Goodwillie scored 16 goals last season, and at only 22, still has years of improvement ahead of him, and would be a steal at £2million. Jelavic, 25 years old, had the perfect first season at Rangers, scoring 16 goals in 23 games and looking the complete striker in the process, and might be available at £7million. But please don’t take my advice on that one if you’re reading Tony.