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Stoke – Midfield Marvels | Opta Stats

It’s one of many questions on every Stoke fans lips when they see the starting 11 prepared by Mr Pulis for match day, it’s up there with are we playing Woodgate at RB again?  Is Pennant warming the bench whilst Shotton plays RW?  This question however, for me is the one I think that’s being asked the longest. “Is Delap once again starting in midfield?”

Now, don’t get me wrong I like Delap, I am under no illusions how much of an asset his arms of bombardment were in that first season, however here we are now, over midway in our fourth season in the top flight and teams are beginning to deal with the human sling.  Couple that with the acquisition of one Mr Wilson Palacios for around the £6 Million mark it does beg the question why Rory is still top of that team sheet every week.

TP Total Passes AP Accurate Passes PA Pass Accuracy PF Passes Forward
PB Passes Backward  PL Passes Left PR Passes Right TC Total Crosses AC Accurate Crosses

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Palacios surely has got to be there, you don’t pay that much money for a player and not start them, I’m aware of the gaffers worries that he didn’t have a pre-season before signing with us but every time I have seen him play he looks like he’s getting sharper, he is calm, his distribution seems very good and my god can he put in a tackle.  So that leaves us with Glen Whelan and Dean Whitehead (please don’t mention Salif Diao).  So let’s see if we can decide on a suitable partner for Wilson with the power of stats from EPL Index.Looking at this seasons Stats it’s clear that Rory’s passing is by far and away the lowest and on top of that he has the lowest amounts of total passes.  I think just from the above shows quite clearly why Rory shouldn’t be the first name on Tony’s team sheet.  So, the question now becomes, who should be Stoke’s starting central midfielders?

HC Total Headed Clearances SHC Successful Headed Clearances TC Total Clearances STC Successful Clearances
ELS Errors Lead to Shot ELD Errors Lead to Goal SBO Shielded Ball Out of Play COL Cleared off the Line

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Looking at these defensive stats it looks pretty much even here, similar amounts of successful clearances, total clearances and successful clearances; I think we all know very few Stoke goals come from the midfield pair, so I don’t envisage the attacking stats to blow anyone’s mind, but let’s take a look at the tackling stats and see who is holding their ground and getting the tackles in.

TT Total Tackles TW Tackles Won TGD Total Ground Duels
GDW Ground Duels Won TAD Total Aerial Duels ADW Aerial Duels Won

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Now, these did surprise me. Whitehead with such a high percentage of tackles won, over 50% of ground duels and aerial duels won,  couple this with his 81% passing accuracy and i think you’ll agree its hard to see why Whitehead isn’t spending more time on the pitch along with Palacios.  Is it that Delap and Whelan were the midfield duo that took us into the Premier League and Pulis is struggling to move on? Is it a fitness thing? Or does Whitehead along with Palacios struggle with playing in high winds?

Currently sitting 8th in the League going into tonight’s game away at Manchester United, with 2 huge Europa League games on the horizon with Valencia – it’s hard to justify arguing with the selection the manager makes, but I can’t help but thinking shaking up that midfield could really work wonders for us, especially away from home.  Once this is done, we can look in to why oh why we are playing a center back at RB and a RB/CB out on the right wing.

Gary Darlington
Gary Darlington
Life Long Stoke fan, first game was against Hull in 92/93 season, we won 3-0, had the bug ever since, red and white through and through!!
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