Can Berahino Be Our New Odemwingie?
It is not hard to notice the similarities between the deal for Berahino and that of Odemwingie. Both have a somewhat unhappy relationship with West Brom, both are pacy, clinical attackers and both were Hughes’ go to man to rectify the sides style. Peter Odemwingie joined a Stoke side littered with Pulis’ players that Hughes had been brought in to replace. And that had only amassed 21 points from their first 19 games of the season. Berahino joins a Stoke side that had only amassed 21 points after 19 games and is littered with players from the previous regime.
The direct, pacy and clinical nature of Odemwingie entirely transformed the Stoke side in 2014. After signing in mid-January Odemwingie amassed 6 goals in 15 starts, making him the 3rd highest scorer in the side. The run the Potters went on after the Nigerians signing is quite remarkable: 8 wins, 4 draws, 4 losses. And there is near universal agreement in the hope that Berahino will provide the same positive effect, and thrust the side into the top half. Such a run would see the Potters reach around 57 points besting the record of 54 and putting Stoke in with a chance of 7th place.
With the creative talents of Arnautovic and Shaqiri it has been clear for some time that a pacy poacher is what Mark Hughes has needed, and in his defence Berahino has been a long-term target. Shaqiri will surely be overjoyed to see a new strike partner arrive, the Swiss international has the highest chances created without an assist (27) of anyone in the Premier League. In fact the entirety of the attack can be described as average, shown nicely by this graph on attacking effectiveness.
Berahino’s success will not be guaranteed. With the England international only making 4 appearances so far this season, in the first 4 games, it has been several months since his last first team appearance. Concerns over fitness have seen the striker shipped off to France twice to attend a fitness camp, however Berahino has made clear on social media his belief that he is fully fit. In the long term, there is worries that an attitude problem combined with good performances could see Stoke fall into a similar situation to that West Brom are currently facing.
But is this not the kind of player Hughes turns into a world beater? Just look at the reputation Arnautovic came with, one of if not the worst in the European football. With the attention and care Hughes has given the Austrian he has blossomed into the best player to have graced this club since Sir Stan. And when he was given the option to leave in the summer it was quite clear he had no intention to do so, and all talks with other clubs were spearheaded by his management rather than the Marko himself.
Berahino will need to be given time, most likely, to find his feet in the side, but if he can do this could be the start of a very special time for himself and Stoke. Even if you don’t like him or are worried he isn’t the right option, we can all collectively agree that seeing him score the winner at the Hawthorns in a few weeks will be a very sweet moment indeed.
Written by Tom Thrower
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