Stoke City are one of the most feared teams in the Premier League, but it remains to be seen as to whether they have the ability to push for a top-ten position.
Position Last Season: 11th
Transfers In: Carlo Nash, Florent Cuvelier, Kenwyne Jones
Transfers Out: Andy Griffin, Steve Simonsen, Amdy Faye, Diego Arismendi, Ibrahima Sonko, Nathaniel Wedderburn
Stoke are renowned for their battling qualities, and of course Rory Delap’s throwing ability. They have proved very difficult to play against and are more than likely to adopt similar tactics this season to the ones that have been seen in previous campaigns. Pulis is not one for squad rotation and used very few players last season, he clearly believes in his squad and will expect them to repay his faith with yet another season defying the odds and steering clear of a relegation fight.
Stoke possess quality throughout the side as well as spirit. Thomas Sorensen and Asmir Begovic are both fantastic goalkeepers, whilst Abdoulaye Faye and Ryan Shawcross are a solid defensive partnership. In midfield, Matthew Etherington will again play the role of provider, with new signing Kenwyne Jones and fan-favourite Tuncay Sanli looking to profit.
Only Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa kept more clean sheets than Stoke last season and there is no reason why the team should not keep a similar record this time round. Having now addressed their forward situation, the side should look more balanced and fans have no reason not to have high expectations for the season ahead.
The only problem however, could be the team’s options if cover is needed. If a number of players were to suffer injuries or a loss of form, Pulis may not have sufficient cover and the team’s prospects could drop dramatically. Hopefully this will not be the case.
Caughtoffside prediction: Look for Stoke to again cause problems for a host of Premier League sides. A repeat of last season’s position looks likely.