Stoke’s search for their first league win goes on and the latest installment is a trip to Old Trafford, a place Stoke last won at in 1976, so pencil this one in as a certain Stoke victory. Mourinho’s side appear to have re-found their feet and are looking strong again. The Potters will be hoping that United’s Thursday night fixture, where a strong XI played nearly the full fixture, will have tired the legs of the ‘red devils’. If a positive result is to be gained two things will be essential. First, Marko Arnautovic, who is celebrating his 100th game for Stoke, will be pivotal to all of Stoke’s attacking play, as the mercurial Austrian was last season. Secondly, the defense, who are seeking their first clean sheet since March, will need to provide a solid base and nullify all of United’s vast attacking threats. The clash sees Ryan Shawcross line up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the man who ended Shawcross’ international career before it had even started, and the Stoke captain will surely be looking for revenge.
Archive for the ‘Match Preview’ Category
A hugely important cup tie sees two Premier League sides, with drastically different aims come together in the Potteries. Hull we simply be aiming to avoid any injuries to first team players, whilst Stoke are in desperate need of a victory to kick start the season. Hardly the most glamourous of cup ties, the football on show may not be the most exciting as Stoke focus on trying to remain tight at the back due to recent vulnerability. Phelan has yet to finalise his contract as permanent manager at Hull and reports are suggesting a successful result will secure the role for him. Most would argue Stoke need the result more and hopefully this can force the Potters to claim a positive result.
Kick Off: Tonight @ 20:00
Odds (as of 12:45): Stoke 17/20, Draw 13/5, Hull 15/4
Last Time Out: Stoke City 1 [Crouch] Hull City 0
Both sides will be keen to get a result from this one as Tottenham Hotspur make the journey up to Staffordshire to take on the Potters, neither side has looked truly convincing as the 2016/17 Premier League season got underway. This is the first fixture since transfer deadline day, Stoke and Spurs will look to include their new signings in their respective match day squads. Bruno Martins Indi of Porto has been brought in to add a solidity whilst Wilfried Bony and his tremendous goal scoring record should bring some much needed fire power at the other end. Pochettino’s squad will provide a stern test for Stoke as we continue the search for our first league win of the season.
Kick Off: Saturday 10/09 @ 15:00
Match Odds (as of the previous day): H: 15/4 – D: 11/4 – A: 5/6
Last Season: 0-4 [H Kane (2), D Alli (2)]
Stoke head to Goodison Park on Saturday for the first time since last year’s 4-3 thriller during the Christmas period. In which: Shaqiri got his first (and astounding second) goals for the club, £45m-man-to-be John Stones conceded a last minute penalty to allow Stoke to take home the three points and Joselu shared some of that love with the official that awarded the spot kick… Interesting move to say the least! Much will have changed this season with Everton having a complete rehaul since Roberto Martinez’s departure, but something that hasn’t changed is Stoke’s inconsistent fortunes, conceding four in one and scoring four in the other of their last two games.
Kick Off: Saturday 27/08 @ 15:00
Match Odds (as of 6pm the previous day): H: 8/11 – D: 11/4 – A: 9/2
Last Season: 3-4 [Lukaku (2), Deulofeu; Shaqiri (2), Joselu, Arnautovic (pen)]
So finally cup football is back and the Potters have been awarded a trip to Hertfordshire in the Second Round of the newly named EFL Cup (the League Cup to you and me). Stoke will be hoping for another successful cup run, with the hope of bettering last season’s semi-final exit, with hopes to return to Wembley for the first time since 2011. Over 800 Stokies are expected to make the trip down south, and here is our preview for tonight’s game.
Stevenage sit just about as low in the football league as any team can do, 20th in League 2 after 4 games. However this does not mean the game will be a walk over as Stevenage already have taken a large scalp beating Ipswich away 1-0. Their squad features former Stoke player Michael Tonge. The 33 year old was signed by Tony Pulis on deadline day in September 2008, but only went on to make 19 appearances for the Potters, along with several loan trips out to the likes of Preston, Derby and Barnsley. The two sides have never met before, but things look positive for Stoke as Stevenage have never made it past the 2nd round of the League Cup.
Pep Guardiola’s first Premier League away game managing Manchester City falls at the Bet 365 Stadium in the early kick off this Saturday. Off the back of a convincing 5-0 win against Steaua Bucresti in the champions league qualifying round, you would expect The Citizens to be quietly confident going in to the game.
Kick Off 12:30 Saturday 20 Aug
Last Season Stoke City 2 Manchester City 0 (Arnautovic 7’, 15’)
Odds H 4/1 A 4/6 D 11/4
Mark Hughes will be looking to replicate the efficiency of the 2-0 win last season that saw Shaqiri assist Arnautovic twice in the first half. The ‘Alpine Messi’ had one of his best games in a Stoke shirt to date, as he acted figurehead for a truly electric team performance. Things look to be a great deal tougher this time out, though. Manchester City, who were without Sergio Aguero last time round, have a new manager who took all three points from his opening fixture at home to Sunderland. A penalty converted by Aguero and own-goal by Stadium of Light new-boy Paddy McNair saw Guardiola’s side through game week one with a win.
The Big Fat Pre-Season Preview 2016/17
So, here it is. Starved for almost three months: fans across the county, and the world, are agonisingly close to the opening day of the 2016/17 Premier League season. We’ve had a less than gripping European Championships, an even less gripping pre-season and been fed scraps of transfer news to keep us occupied. But now, the wait is over and we at The Bear Pit TV couldn’t be more excited. So much so that we’ve put together a super duper bumper special season preview for you to get your teeth stuck into. The team serving this starter course of Premier League action are TBPTV regulars Ben Cartwright, Ben Rowley, Dan Morris, Dave Crowther-Green, Mitch Adams, Tom Thrower and Zach Evans. We’ve also brought in Rob Doolan, who also hosts ‘The 90s Football Party’. So sit back and indulge in what we’ve got to say, you might need to sit down somewhere comfy.
Before we start, these predictions were made prior to the injury to Jack Butland. #Pray4Stoke.
1) How has the transfer window gone so far?
BC: After an extremely slow start and then an extremely exciting couple of days it has all gone a bit quiet again. Nailing Arnautovic down to a long term contract was something not many dared to dream could happen and it is a huge bonus to the squad that it did. Sobhi looks promising for the future and Allen is another big name signing that will continue to grow our ‘brand’.
BR: Pretty much the way I wanted it to so far! We needed a young, hungry, tricky winger and we finally signed one in Ramadona. With a few weeks of experience I’m sure he’ll be pushing Arnie for a start. We needed a younger, more modern version of Glenn Whelan and we signed Joe Allen. We needed Arnie to sign a new contract and, miraculously, he did. Now we don’t need to sign a new left wing which will free up funds for some other players we’ve been chasing. Ryan Sweeney was a surprise but may be more involved with Hughes’ plans than meets the eye. Although deals have sometimes taken a while to progress, I’m glad we’ve not just thrown ourselves in front of the bus and spent ridiculous amounts of money (yet).
DM: I think it has been a good window, Allen was a good buy, especially after the Euros he had. The signing on Sobhi is not one I will get excited about just yet, but he does look promising. But I think the biggest signing is Arnie for another 4 years. We still need to get rid of some dead weight though.
DCG: I think if you look at the window realistically we haven’t done too badly so far. Obviously the optimists amongst us would have liked a few more before the start of the season but with 3 weeks still to go there’s still plenty of time. The signing of Joe Allen could be a very clever piece of business over the course of the season, providing brilliant competition for places as well as premier league quality. Ramadan Sobhi could be interesting but I expect him to struggle in his first season.
MA: Prior to Arnie signing I would have said that it had been poor, regardless of the acquisition of Allen and Sobhi. But now that Arnie has finally put pen to paper it has bumped it up to a good window. Now if we can bring in a CDM and ST and sell off some dead weight (Looking at you Wilson) then it would be a great window
TT: 8/10 It was key to tie down Arnie, and in doing so everything else is a bonus. Joe Allen could quite easily become signing of the season if he performs as well as he did in the euros, and Sobhi is finally a wing option who has pace and tricky, he provides good quality in depth.
ZA: I think the transfer window has been very strong so far. Obviously getting Arnie to sign a new contract was absolutely massive, keeping our best outfield player from last season is huge. Joe Allen is an incredibly tidy player and I expect him to pair up great with Imbula, pressing attackers and forcing interceptions to transition into counters. Whelan is class but his game is a bit limited for our current playing style, and I think Allen will be able to offer a more dynamic presence in the same area of the pitch. Ramadan was also a good pickup as we desperately need some depth on the left wing. Arnie isn’t indestructible and last season we were forced to play Diouf and Afellay out of position a number of times. If Sobhi is 1% as good as our new Egyptian fans keep telling us then he is guaranteed to win the Ballon d’Or. I can’t pretend to know much about Ryan Sweeney but he was very polite in responding to my Twitter DMs and it’s good that we’re buying homegrown talent for the future.
RD: It’s gone well in terms of players in so far – Joe Allen is a bit of a coup and brings some energy to the midfield, Ramadan Sobhi ticks the much-needed ‘third winger’ box and promises to be an absolute superstar. There’s still plenty of work to be done though.
2) What else do we need in the transfer window?
BC: We don’t need anyone. Need is the key word. It’s almost like we have had a delicious main meal, my stomach is pretty full but if someone was to bring out a slice of cheesecake or a cheese-board I wouldn’t say no. Striker is a cheesecake, centre back is the cheese-board.
BR: Basically, Berahino. Or someone of his ilk. It’s been a long process to try and bring him in and we don’t know if he’ll sign or not but we need a first choice striker. If anything so that he has an open shot at having a fair run of games in the side, not like our forwards last season. Consistency often leads to goals, look at Vardy for instance, out of nowhere he grabbed that famous eleven game record. We need a versatile hitman and Berahino fits that bill.
DM: I think we need a new striker, an effective one who will get us 15 goals a season. But we have been looking for one of them since Dave Kitson. I don’t think Berahino is the answer if I’m honest. I also want to see our defence improve, but reluctant to change it as I feel all the players are decent. Maybe replacement for Johnson as he is getting on a bit.
DCG: I think the obvious one is a striker and I would hope that it’ll be Saido Berahino, as for me, he fits our system perfectly, would slot in quite easily and score goals for fun. Another position that needs sorting for me is another centre back, mainly to provide cover for Ryan, as I don’t expect Ryan Sweeney to be quite up to Premier League standard just yet.
MA: I just slightly touched on it but a CB and ST are crucial to bring in. Whilst Diouf in my eyes would be a great striker for us, I have no faith in any of our other strikers. So bringing in one more is a must for me (Whether as our starter or as better back up to Diouf). As for CB I don’t think that needs much explaining. In terms of who I would sell I think it’d be the some of the last of Pulis’ Guard (Wilson, Crouch, Walters and Adam).
TT: The obvious thing that nearly every team in the league needs, a 15 goal a season striker. If we are to play a lone frontman then I don’t believe the current crop are good enough right now. Both Diouf and Joselu will need time to get confidence up, and if we want to push into Europe we don’t have that time to give. Also think some people need to move on, especially if you are Irish, fond of a twitter Q&A and called Marc.
ZA: Obviously it’d be nice to get a prolific striker and a center back to compete with Wollscheid (and fill in for the inevitable Shawcross injuries) but I don’t necessarily know if we need any more players. I don’t think Sweeney is the center back everybody has been clamoring for so someone like Kyriakos Papadopoulos would be a good signing. I like Diouf and Joselu a whole lot but I don’t think either of them is the mythical “20-goals-a-season striker” of legend. Finally getting Berahino (or even ending the saga) would be a relief but I’d also be happy to see us swing Wilfried Bony or especially Simone Zaza, who we’ve been linked with in the past. Zaza took an infamously terrible penalty in the Euros but I think he’s a total bruiser with pace who would thrive in our system if Juve would let him leave. I’d also like to see some outgoing players, namely Crouch, Adam, and Wilson. All three can still do a job for a Prem side but I don’t think any of them will get much playing time for us this year and they deserve it elsewhere. At this point I’d rather see some academy kids like Lecygne, Telford, N’Goy, and Taylor get minutes with the first team.
RD: At least one centre half is a priority and it’s slightly troubling we haven’t been linked with many. Maybe another winger too if we’re being greedy.
3) What’s your starting eleven for Boro?
BC: (4,2,3,1) Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Muniesa, Pieters; Allen, Imbula; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf. Predictable but the best
BR: (4,2,3,1) Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Allen, Imbula; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf. No contest, what a silly question.
DM: (3,2,3,2) Butland; Cameron, Shawcross, Pieters; Allen Whelan; Shaqiri, Imbula, Arnautovic;
DCG: (4,3,3) Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Imbula, Allen; Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Diouf – I’d of loved to of fit Bojan into the XI, but with an away fixture, I don’t expect us to go all guns blazing so Joe Allen just gets in instead.
MA: Who do I want to start?… (4,2,3,1) Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wolly, Erik; Allen, Imbula; Arnie, Bojan, Shaq; Diouf. Who do I THINK will start, the same team but with Whelan over Allen
TT: Going with the False 9 433: Butland – Johnson Shawcross Wollscheid Pieters – Whelan – Allen Imbula – Shaqiri Bojan Arnautovic. This formation will get the best out of our two wide men, and will be one our two centre midfielders will be happy with as Whelan covers the defensive duty.
ZA: This is boring but despite the experimental pre-season 3-4-3 I still think 4-2-3-1 is our best formation with the current squad: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Imbula, Allen; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf. Bench: Given, Sobhi, Joselu, Whelan, Muniesa, Cameron, Walters.
RD: (4,2,3,1) Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Muniesa, Pieters; Allen, Imbula; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf.
4) How do you think we’ll do this season?
BC: I’m not one for concentrating on finishing positions. It would be nice if we had a push for Europe, but I don’t think our squad has the depth for a season in Europe and the Premier League yet so it might still be early for that. A top half finish with some exciting performances is what I crave.
BR: 9th. No I’m not being lazy, I’ve actually thought about this. There’s an argument that because so many good teams performed so badly, we’re gonna be pushed down again. There’s an argument that so many average teams performed so well, we’re gonna be pushed up. The successful have European football, the top clubs have new managers and new world class teams and I find it difficult to find a way into the top seven. The last remaining eighth spot could be taken by us should we perform admirably all season; but I predict we’ll have another good cup run this year with the strength we have in our squad, even on the fringes, and we’ll sacrifice a couple of league games toward the end to push for silverware again (it happened last season after the League cup loss). We have a fantastic team and would only be made better with a prolific striker. It’s a fourth consecutive ninth for me.
DM: Well I feel like this season maybe a struggle, unless we can find the key to being consistent, we can’t have anymore nightmare games, we seem to lack something, I can’t quiet put my finger on it, I dunno if its spirit or tactics but something is missing from our team. But I’m also optimistic so I’m gonna go 8th plus a good cup run.
DCG: I sense this season could be very similar to the past couple of years. Despite our two very interesting and exciting signings, I struggle to see how we can significantly move forward without the addition of a top class striker. The resurgence of stronger sides such as Chelsea and Everton as well as new competition like Leicester and West Ham also provides even more of a battle for us to progress towards the top 7. So with all this considered, I’m going to go for a stable 10th position.
TT: Really positive about this year so 6th. Think we would have finished in Europe last season if it was not for injuries to key players at pivotal times. This with the cup results away at Liverpool and Palace totally destroyed confidence and stopped us going forward. But with a stronger and deeper squad think this is our year to take a weakened Southampton’s place in the league.
ZA: I’m going to get wildly optimistic and say we finish the season strong and slide into Europe in 7th place. More realistically? 10th. But let a boy dream.
RD: 9th. Always 9th.
5) And finally, does anyone see anything else in their crystal ball?
BC: Shaqiri is going to come into his own this season. He is a player that has shown so much promise and at some point that promise needs to come to fruition. If our back four can stay fit I think our defensive performances will become a lot more secure, despite Marc Wilson’s best disruption efforts.
BR: Like I said previously, we’re gonna have another good bash at one of the cups and may even win one should luck be on our side a bit more than other years. I can see Bojan and Shaqiri fighting for Player of the Season spot and it will be down to injury to decide the winner. We’ll have a period where Hughes will be under pressure like never before, but will stay. Man City to win the league. Kane top scorer again. Leicester to finish mid table. Sunderland will finally be relegated. We’ll break our transfer record (whatever it is at the time) again in January. Imbula will release his own range of Winter clothing.
DM: I think if Stoke don’t have a positive improvement by December we may see the end of Hughes. I think it will be hard to keep the ego’s of Adam, Wilson and Walters all in check. I reckon Bojan will have better season than the last, no more getting lost in the middle, the same with Shaqiri. Afellay returning will boost us greatly. Leicester will struggle. Butland becomes England number 1.
TT: A really big year for Bojan. Elsewhere in the league I think United will walk to the title, West Brom will be in for a turbulent time and I can’t see Pulis being in charge come January. Also feel Swansea are sleepwalking towards the relegation zone as key players are leaving and not being replaced effectively.
ZA: Joint top scorers will be Arnautovic and Shaqiri with 12 each. Utter chaos from the wings this season. Opposing fullbacks will sob with terror when they learn they’ve been named to the starting XI. Player of the season will be Imbula who will barely edge out Bojan. When asked for a statement, Giannelli Imbula will respond thoughtfully with “Giannelli Imbula.”. Both he and Bojan are going to be monsters and then sign lifetime contract extensions and get matching Pottermus chest tattoos. The longer Hughes goes without shaving the better we get. By April his beard is down to his knees and we’re winning every match 8-0.
So, there you have it. See you tomorrow.
Ben Cartwright (@bajcartwright)
Ben Rowley (@Ben_Rowley56)
Dan Morris (@HailManDorris)
Dave Crowther-Green (@Dave_CGr)
Mitch Adams (@MitchAdams2013)
Tom Thrower (@sussexstokie)
Zach Evans (@NOLAStokie)
Rob Doolan (@ChiefDelilah)
How’ve you done so far?
A real season of two halves and thankfully we had such a great first half it has stood us in very good stead for when we have struggled. And boy have we struggled in 2016. Our win at the Britannia in December was the last win we managed in the league until we beat Norwich in April which was ludicrous. It was quite odd that that we managed to beat Premier League teams in the FA Cup, including yourselves, but just not in the league. It has been hard to put a finger on it really other than an injury crisis which you guys know all about coinciding with a real loss of form. Regardless, I am convinced we have done just enough even though we are not mathematically safe. There is a view that it has papered over some cracks but to reach the FA Cup final is incredible and many will forgive our league campaign if we stay up and put up a fight for the old trophy in a couple of weeks.
How’ve you done so far?
Well, if the season had started at the culmination of the January transfer window we might well have been flying high in the top half of the table, but the fact of the matter is that it didn’t, and our struggle towards the safety line has been a direct results of years of mismanagement, and particularly the decision to give Dick Advocaat the manager’s job in the summer. Sunderland, especially in recent weeks, have proven themselves to have fight – and with players like Jermain Defoe and Jan Kirchhoff, we have the ability to beat just about anyone. Leaving the Britannia Stadium with anything less than three points this weekend is just unacceptable, because it’s probably our best chance of moving clear of Norwich and Newcastle – for a week at least.
And that’s no slight on Stoke, by the way. You have a very capable squad and I’m expecting we’ll have a tough battle on our hands, but let’s be honest, Stoke have suffered from injury troubles recently and have been below par in recent weeks, so if we are to give ourselves a good chance of staying up we have to be targeting three points this weekend.