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Will The Britannia be Stoke’s secret weapon in Europe this season?

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For a relatively small stadium on the top of a windy hill, the fans at the Britannia make a surprising amount of noise and give an impressive amount of both support and confidence to their team. So far this season Stoke have held both of last season’s top two, Chelsea and run away leaders so far this season Manchester United to draws at home, and it is fast becoming the not so funny joke between the top teams that visiting Stoke is a trip no one wants to make.

In the game against Chelsea, Stoke were as solid as ever at the back and did not look like ever conceding a goal. Likewise against United today, they produced several crunching tackles in the first ten minutes, one of which led to Hernandez being substituted, leaving United without both of their first choice strikers and letting United know exactly what they were in for.

As is always the case, any statistic reeled out before the game will come back to haunt someone, and the fact that Peter Crouch had neither been on the winning side against United, or scored against them in the League before was broken with his headed equaliser in the second half. Stoke certainly did not deserve to lose the match, and had more than a couple of chances to go ahead themselves against an injury hit United side, who dropped their first points of the season so far.

If top class premier league sides who are aware of Stoke’s notoriously tough reputation at home, and the fact that they don’t own a player under 6 2’ and still cannot find a way to win, the question of how well equipped some of the sides Stoke will face in the Europa League are to play them comes to the fore.

One can only imagine how a side who enjoy time on the ball and free flowing passing will cope with firstly the tackles and constant pressing for the ball when Stoke are not in possession and secondly the now notorious Rory Delap long throw into the box! One can only wonder how Barcelona would respond to visiting the Britannia, especially with their current system playing just 3 at the back, two of whom are Sergio Busquets and Mascherano!

With giants not only at the back, but throughout the entire team, not to mention several players who have real quality on the ball Stoke can now create goal scoring opportunities not just via the long ball. Tony Pulis has a well drilled, hard working side with genuine class, especially after shrewd purchasing in the transfer window, and will expect to more than have a go at their shot in Europe this season, not to mention pushing for a place amongst the elite in Europe again next term.

With a brilliant and hard fought draw in the Ukraine last time out, Stoke will be looking to build on that and get all three points in another tough tie against Besiktas, this time at home. The work rate and determination that the team show every single game will be vital, especially on the back of the league game against the champions, but with the twelfth man of the Britannia behind them, don’t count Stoke out!

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1 comment

  • whistleblower says:

    Pulis is doing a super job at Stoke. The squad is improving and developing each season. The Stoke 11 work as hard as any team in the Prem and are not just a Hoff Ball team, but play some good pacey attacking footy which is good to watch. Well done TP and his Board.

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