Are Stoke City potential top-four contenders?


While Liverpool spent a grand sum of £56 million in the summer, and if previous years are anything to go by, they will be hit hard in the next fiscal year. There is no Fernando Torres to balance the books; in fact, the only realistic situation is for Liverpool to be posting a significant loss by this time next year.

Tottenham actually made a sum of £19 million in the summer transfer window, but how will the legal battles affect them? More importantly, how much will dropping out of the Champions League hurt their finances? Couple in the likelihood of top stars such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale leaving to pastures new, and Tottenham seem stable, but in fact are a ticking time bomb, and that is without factoring in the possible departure of wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp to the England National Team.

It appears to me as if the rivals are either waiting to implode, or in Arsenal’s case, already done so. Stoke are in prime position, and it could be argued that they conducted some of the best business in the league this past summer. Each signing was a perfect combination of functionality and consistency. Look at Wilson Palacios: a hard-working midfield destroyer, and a thoroughly under-rated former member of Harry Redknapp’s side.

Peter Crouch is not everyone’s ideal footballer, and I must admit, I am not a fan, but he delivers on a regular basis, and there are not many strikers with his knack of being in the right place at the right time. Both Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson are ex-England internationals and more than that, they provide a different outlet for Tony Pulis. Stereotypically, Stoke are seen as a long-ball team, but in Woodgate and Upson, they have two centre-halves adept at building from the back. Fitness is an issue, but they are there if necessary.

This complemented an already solid side, Robert Huth is a perfect fit for Stoke City, and there is just the right amount of trickery and guile on the wings provided by Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant. Add in Rory Delap, Thomas Sorensen and Kenwyne Jones, and the side is a fearsome proposition for any team in the league.

Tony Pulis has built a side that is feared by all Premier League sides, all with an XI that no other club wants to buy. Should they keep improving, continue imposing their style on every opposition, perhaps they could reach the heady heights of European football’s prestige competition.

So, who would win in a match between FC Barcelona and Stoke City? Give it a few years, maybe the world will have it’s answer.

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