Sitting in 14th place is no cause for looking to the possible firing of Pulis and ultimate evaporation of all things Stoke and so on and so forth. Their 12 fixtures to date have included 6 of the top ten and 5 of the top 7; A baptism of fire for the Potters. Ironically though, out of the 5 of the top 7 they’ve played, they’ve picked up a win and two draws, only losing to Arsenal and Newcastle. It is the teams around them, that will prevent Stoke from climbing the table. A 5-0 hammering at the hands of 18th placed Bolton and a 2-0 loss to newly-promoted Swansea, contrasted with a 1-0 win and 0-0 draw at Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, epitomise Stoke’s season; unpredictable and inconsistent. That isn’t a good mix.
Shipping goals at an alarming rate doesn’t necessarily mean the team can’t do well; look at Arsenal. They’ve conceded just as many as Stoke, yet they sit 7 places higher in 7th place and continue to climb. The difference is goals; Arsenal are scoring them. No one in the Premier League have scored fewer goals than The Potters and only Wigan have a worse goal difference.
Their inability to score is worrying. It is more worrying when you consider they paid £10m for Peter Crouch and his margin of return diminishes with every game; the lanky forward has scored 2 goals in 9 for Stoke. The next best striker, on paper, would be Kenwyne Jones and he’s only scored one this campaign. His value to Stoke since moving from the other Premier League’s striped Red and Whites, Sunderland, works out as £800k per Premier League goal.
Stringing a couple of passes together would be a start; their last game, QPR, reaped only 118 successful passes for Stoke. Shooting however, is far worse: they have the worst shooting accuracy in the Premier League, 35%, a fifth of their goals have come from the penalty spot and Wayne Rooney has had as many shots on target as the whole of Stoke’s squad.
Although their best strikers, on paper, weigh in at £18m pound, their failure to score could cost Stoke this season. Goals aren’t coming regularly enough and if they can’t rely on the defensive displays they have so often produced in the past, then they need to start producing up the other end. The middle of the table has been blown well open this season. Anywhere from 7th to 17th is up for grabs and if Stoke can’t start getting results against the teams around them, they’ll find them self the wrong end of that segment. Their European adventure may well be proving successful, but with how much cost to their Premier League campaign?
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