People are forever saying stats in football are meaningless. That it’s what happens on the day that counts. Well, coincidence or not, Stoke’s continuing poor form coincides with some very poor stats. The 3-2 loss to QPR at the weekend has not only set Stoke back to 14th in the table, with 12 points from 12 games, but also means their goal difference is the 19th worst in the league – only Wigan, with -13 have worse. Many said Stoke might have deserved a draw from this game – but as i’ve said in many a blog, football isn’t about deserving, it’s about getting.
On the whole, it seemed a pretty tight game. Stoke rarely dominate possession, so this wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone involved. Some would argue its not what you do, it’s the way that you do it. The home side managed a lower pass completion rate and total number of passes (151-222), a lower percentage of shots on target – whilst having triple the number of attempted shots and were accurate with a lower percentage of their crosses – with only 7 of their 31 attempted crosses hitting a man. We all expect Stoke to be physical in midfield, hence why they usually dominate the possession and aerial duels stats. On this occasion however, QPR were their match, winning just over half of the duels in both categories.
In this set of stats, Stoke look much more impressive. As mentioned, Stoke attempted 16 shots during the game, a high number for them. They created 13 chances during the game, to QPR’s 8, which is an indication of one of two things, in my opinion. Either QPR were much more clinical on the day, or Stoke’s strikers are useless with a banjo. Stoke also lost possession less and made more successful tackles than their opponents, showing that their midfield was still working as hard as ever despite the scoreline. In fact, for every one time Stoke lost possession, QPR lost possession twice during the same time frame. QPR made more effective clearances and made slightly more interceptions, which might be an indication of a more seat of their pants defending style from Neil Warnock’s men. Both sides gave away a similar number of fouls, over 25, which might have been a sign of frustration from both teams. Overall, it was a tight game. QPR may have just snuck it, but the 3 points is what matters.
This weekend see’s Stoke play at home to Blackburn, another side who, on the face of it, Stoke really should be looking to beat. However, never write off a team with the Yak in it. Good news for Stoke fans is that Ricardo Fuller, scorer of two goals against Rangers during his brief spell in the capital, is on his way back, hopefully to inject some much needed energy into the Stoke front line. The week after, Stoke have a dangerous Europa league match against Dynamo Kiev, with a win for the Potters securing their passage into the next round. For Pulis’ men, things can only get better, right?