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Scouting Report: Stoke City | Stats & In Depth Tactical Analysis

This week Martin Lewis has a scouting report on Stoke City. This will not only be interesting for Manchester United supporters but also Stoke City supporters before the big game on Sunday. In fact supporters of any club that are yet to play Stoke City this season will find this in-depth tactical and statistical analysis a welcome read.

You can find Martin Lewis’ tactical report on Manchester United here: Manchester United Scouting Report – written last week before the Manchester Derby 2013.

[box_light]N.B. Please note that this is not an article – the purpose of this report is just that for it to seem like a Scouting Report please take it in such a way.[/box_light]

Initial Information:Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.07.37

  • Team on a very poor run of results, struggling to recapture their early season consistency of performances and results.
  • They are often well organised defensively, but struggle to find goals in their team.
  •  Their top goal scorer in the league this season is Walters, with 6 in the league [9 in all competitions].
  • Crouch [with 5 league goals] is the only other player in their team to score 5 or more in the league this season.
  • They are a very tall, aggressive & physically strong team, often dominating all 1st balls in the air [danger at set plays].
  • Use the long throw in & get great numerical numbers in the box when doing so, therefore it’s important to be aware, organised and to try to concede as few set plays as possible.
  • Fantastic use of blockers in offensive corners.

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.04.55

Injury News:

Expect all three players to be back.

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.06.50

Offensive Organisation:

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.06.02

  • Team set up in a 4x4x2, direct aggressive with high amount of physical strength and height.
  • Always look to play long and direct from goalkeeper, rest of team squeeze up to win second ball.
  • Crouch dominate 1st ball [usually  chest] then can lay off to central midfielders or fullbacks to play early diagonal crosses from deep [4 players in the box].
  • If Crouch flicks on the header they look to create 3v3 beyond him, with wide players moving inside and Jerome running into depth.
  • The fullback on the side the striker moves will move up and the other fullback will tuck in to become a back 3.
  • Better dynamic on the left hand side, with Walter breaking lines to become a striker or moving inside with the ball to play as second striker [Jerome will move outside or Wilson will overlap to provide width].
  • Play with very quick tempo and intensity when in rhythm.
  • Also very good at retaining the ball in creation areas with high amount of players in box, central midfielders high and width on both sides.
  • Very good passing range from N’Zonzi in midfield, has ability to play vertically though lines [both into depth and in between lines].
  • Always attack the 3 positions in the box [1st,2nd post and penalty spot] with Crouch often 2nd post/penalty spot, Jerome 1st and a wide player attacking the 2nd post/penalty spot.

Team Dynamics:

2013-04-13 02.27.31

Defensive Organisation:Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.05.55

  • Team set up in 4x4x2/4x5x1- low-medium block. Tight and well organised lines, good spacing and communication.
  • Have capacity to press high, especially at the start of big games.
  • They play with a low defensive line when in a medium/low block [not offside trap], but will look to use the offside trap and push up if the opposition are playing long from the goalkeeper.
  • When the defensive line moves up ,the entire midfield line are often too high, allowing space between line lines to either win second ball or to play passes just over the midfield line then turning to run at defenders [line will drop, poor defensive transitions]. Exploit the poor covering from fullbacks after drawing a centre back out of the line.
  • When pressing in medium block with strikers, big gaps between defensive and midfield line (defensive line low).
  • With inside progression from wide players, the centre backs are slow to react and allow space in front of them for long shots.
  • When the opposition are then forced to play long, the defensive line move up to squeeze play and to use offside trap.
  • Fullbacks are poor at covering centre backs when they are drawn in between lines.
  • Walters can be draw out of his midfield line, allowing 1v1 on Wilson.
  • Centre backs struggle to deal with mobility [especially if strikers cross runs].
  • Important to use mobility to draw them out of position then exploit the space behind them [poor turning speed, fouls!].
  • When defending in a low block, the midfield line will often become too deep allowing passes to feet in the box [centre backs very physical and will push or pull top].
  • With the second ball, look to use short lay off to central midfielders breaking lines from deep [central midfielders often wont track].

Drawing Shawcross in between lines & exploiting depth left behind[no cover from Cameron]:

2013-04-13 00.11.13

Drawing Walters out of line to create 1v1/2v1 on Wilson:

2013-04-13 00.16.10

Offensive Transitions:

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.06.16

  • Slow-medium reaction, often look to clear the ball and not counter.
  • Long to the striker for hold up/flick on into depth main aim.
  • Second ball from hold up will go wide, followed by a deep diagonal cross from fullbacks (overloads in the box, 3v2 capacity).
  • Jerome’s mobility a threat, he also has a good work rate and will pressure every ball (often to the channels).

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 21.05.15


Defensive Transitions:

  • Strong reaction to the area of the ball, with high pressure & intensity to press from the front and force opposition to go back to ‘keeper or long.
  • Will then drop to more medium block if ball isn’t regained within 10 seconds.
  • Defensive line can lose alignment & spacing, as fullbacks don’t tuck in.
  • No extra cover from left-wing (second post crosses).
  • Poor defensive transitions from set plays [lack recovery speed to get back and mobility to match players breaking lines], especially from offensive corners.
  • Often poor in transitions from defensive corners, as they don’t push out of the box quick enough and poor alignment when they try to do so [can’t play offside].

 2013-04-13 00.22.49

Set Plays

Offensive corners:

2013-04-13 02.20.18

Defensive corners:

2013-04-13 01.57.03

Offensive free kicks from the side:

2013-04-13 02.15.35

Defensive free kicks from the side:

2013-04-13 02.01.28

Long throw-ins: 

2013-04-13 02.11.26

Pattern and combination play

Long build up patterns [flick on]:

2013-04-12 23.46.26

Long build up patterns [second ball wide then cross from deep]:

2013-04-12 23.56.09

Dynamics on the left [Wilson overlaps with inside progression from Walters]:

2013-04-12 23.57.59

If Walters doesn’t progress inside, Jerome will move wide:

2013-04-12 23.58.45

Dynamics on the right [More interchanges of position between Cameron and Shotton, Jerome also moves wide]:

2013-04-13 00.00.30

Kick off combination:

Hard to win 1st ball, look to win the second ball then quick transitions to exploit them.

2013-04-13 01.40.38


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All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]

You don't learn the piano by running around it! Follow me on twitter: @martinlewis94 You can also subscribe to my blog for non premier league reports:
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