Stoke City head to the London Stadium in form that after the first few weeks of the season not many would have seen coming. Three wins on the bounce has shot the Potters up the table but the points have come from teams that have struggled themselves.
Stoke come up against West Ham who have also had a problematic start to the season. The Hammers are just above the relegation zone in 17th place, losing six of their first ten games.
Both sides have won three games apiece so far this term and will be desperate to get the three points. West Ham will be hoping to really kick start their tenure at the London Stadium whilst Stoke are searching for a fourth consecutive win. A feat that last occurred five years ago in December 2011.
Seven games have been played so far this season and Stoke and Sunderland are the only sides not to have found a win at this stage before they face off on Saturday at the Bet365 Stadium.
The last time Stoke got all three points against Sunderland in the Premier League was back in 2013, both teams will be desperate to leave the Bet 365 with smiles on their faces.
The Potters and the Black Cats find themselves in 19th and 20th position respectively, the likelihood of being last on Match of the Day is high, and have only managed 11 goals between them over 14 games. Goals will likely be at a premium in this one.
It is ten years since Rory Delap signed for Stoke, having previously played for our opponents, and although the playing style may have changed since his time on the pitch, this one could be a scrappy affair.
Four defeats in a row. Three of them extremely heavy ones. In any situation, good or bad, many of us adore talking about our Stoke City but it’s never really the same as having a good, old moan about everything that is going on, or not going on, with our football team. In the midst of one of our worst starts to a season in recent memory it hasn’t just been the fans that have had a lot to say about what is going wrong for the Potters.
The players, staff and even the big dog chairman, Peter Coates, have all had their say on this torrid patch of form we find ourselves in. HughesIn or HughesOut this blog is not; I merely aim to sift through the dirt to find the nuggets of gold from the plethora of quotes released by figures in the club over the past week.
Beginning to become a bit embarrassing, isn’t it? Today (Or yesterday depending on when this gets put up), a second half capitulation from Stoke saw Spurs as the away side romp to a 4-0 victory. After what seemed like a very promising first 20 minutes, Stoke decided that they wanted to make my job a rather easy one, and once the first goal had gone in there was never really any sign of us getting back into the game.
Usually when I sit down to write these blogs I have to take some time, usually about 10 or 15 minutes just to finalise what the five points that I want to pick apart are… not the case today. The following five issues with today’s game flow right off the tongue, so let’s not waste any more time and get straight down to it…
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)]
Over the last decade or so what is to be expected from a full back has significantly changed. During the Pulis era the full backs were deployed as out and out defenders; two conventional wingers in the form of Etherington and Pennant meant there wasn’t too much space for a full back to overlap anyway. The conventional role for a full back in the modern game is to hold the defensive line when the team is without possession and to maraud forward, overlapping the winger, when with possession. Pochetinno’s Tottenham are a fantastic example of this system, using the full backs to overlap in attack, Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, and now Manchester City, have the full backs come inside to take up the position of a conventional holding midfielder when with the ball, and some systems, such as Antonio Conte’s Italy, have the wide defenders in an even more attack orientated role as wing backs. Hughes’ system requires the two full backs to adventure forward to help aid attacks similar to Spurs, but at the moment the system is nowhere near as successful as it could be.
The system should work that when Stoke have possession of the ball on the wing, either Pieters or (for last week at least) Bardsley, give Shaq or Arnie another option by overlapping around the opposition full back. This can then create several options for the next phase of the attack. The simplest is for the winger to play the ball through for the full back to run on to and then cross into the box. If the defending full back follows the overlap run, then this opens up a second avenue for success. The defender moving away gives Shaqiri or Arnautovic the space they crave to set in motion their fortes. The cut inside. What they choose to do in this moment is up to them. They will often shape to shoot, perhaps dink the ball into the box or go for a gallivant into the box. Whatever they do, the fact that the full back overlapped can often be the catalyst for chance creation.
Mark Hughes’ Barcelona contacts have proven very useful since he took over Stoke back in the Summer of 2013. Marc Muniesa’s arrival from Camp Nou was the first of a wave of ex-barca-boys who made the decision to join him at the West Midlands side. The success of these amigos begs the question; who next?
Marc Bartra, 25, has been playing for Barcalona since he was 11. The central defender has struggled to find a place in the starting line-up and has occasionally been linked with a move away from the club. Bartra has made nine full appearances for Spain, and a further 37 at youth team levels.
He could provide good cover for Ryan Shawcross who seems like he has a recurring back problem. Barcelona are said to want around 12-million for the defender who may be looking for more game time given his age.
Munir, still only 20, plays generally as a striker but is also used on the right wing. He is Barcelona’s third youngest goal-scorer after none other than our own Bojan Krkic and some lad called Lionel Messi. He was nominated for the Golden Boy Award in 2014 and has been slowly integrated to the main side from the Barcelona B-side.
His 15 league appearances this season have seen him score three goals, which all came in one match in the absence of Luis Suarez. His pace could challenge any Premier League outfit, and could provide good competition for Shaqiri, even if only on loan.