HomeOTHEREPLA quick look back | Stoke: Season so far

A quick look back | Stoke: Season so far

I usual do a retrospective on the corresponding fixture from last year for the preview, but as I’m short on time, and luckily Stoke haven’t played Swansea in the past few seasons, this will be a slight look back at the season so far, and some thoughts on where Stoke are, and what they can expect.

6 games into the season, and Stoke lie 7th in the Premier League on 9 points – 3 draws, two wins and a loss. A good start, with 5 points from three of the tougher games of the season; Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. Despite the dire loss to Sunderland, Stoke fans seem over the moon at the results their team are getting, and surprisingly, to me anyway, with the way they are playing. They sit with a goal difference of -2, with only West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United scoring and conceding less respectively.

They have averaged just over one yellow card per game with 7, and conceded just slightly more fouls than they have won (67-73). For a team who did so well in possession duels last season, this time around they have lost more than they have won (289-313) but have still dominated in the air, winning 22 more times than they lost (94-72). While managing to win 78.3% of their attempted tackles, and making 161 effective clearances, Stoke have conceded a total of 93 chances in their 6 games – and average of 15.5 per game.

In attack, the stats make dim reading for fans. Outside of their 4 goals, they only created 7 clear cut chances, despite creating 38 chances in total. They have a pass completion rate of 71%, with 1211 successful passes out of 1712. 1028 of these were forward passes, while a measly 245 went backwards, which at least shows some attacking intent. While they managed 405 successful final third passes, they still showed a slight reliance on long balls, attempting 394, being successful with 237 of them.

Honestly, these stats are good, and Stoke fans should be happy that their team look like challenging for a Europa League slot this year. However, as is always the way in football, stats only tell half the story. The main question is are Stoke capable of playing good football? Yes, of course they are – Etherington, Pennant, Palacios, Upson, Crouch and Huth are all players who have shown their class at the highest level. Should they be? Well, if it works, then you can’t really argue against it. It may be my big team mentality which blinkers me – if my team played like Stoke, even if we were winning, I wouldn’t be happy about it.

Some brief thoughts on the Besiktas game. Shawcross had a good game, but I felt that he was taking on too much responsibility. He is the captain, and a very competent central defender, but it seems as if he wants to be the centre of attention at all times. When he learns to sit back and play his natural game, he will be an England first choice. Crouch has been impressive in his first few games – a perfect fit for this Stoke side, and adds a consistency to Stoke’s attack that Jones, Walters et al lack. As per usual, they were dogged in midfield, but did not have much oomph when it came to creating chances, and as good as Etherington is, he lacks the final ball to push his, and Stokes game forward. All in all, the game went totally the opposite way to what I was expecting. I can’t fault Stoke, or Pulis one bit. They got the win over the toughest side in the group, and Stoke deserved it in the end.

In the meantime, thank your lucky stars that Rustu is still around.

My apologies for the mismatched blog this week, normal service should be resumed for the next match preview, if not for the review this weekend.

Impassioned Scottish football fan, more precisely Rangers and Peterhead... The Stoke City writer around here... Although i'm more of a Fulham man. @ICG90 on twitter.
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