Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at Stoke City’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.
Manager: Tony Pulis.
Captain: Ryan Shawcross.
Stadium: Britannia Stadium (27,740).
Last season: 14th.
Leading scorer (PL): Peter Crouch (10).
Odds: Title 1000-1. Relegation 5-1.
In: Geoff Cameron (£1.82m, Houston Dynamo), Michael Kightly (£2m. Wolves), Jamie Ness (Free, Rangers), Goran Popov (Loan, Dynamo Kiev).
Out: Ryan Brunt (Loan, Leyton), Danny Collins (£563k, Nottingham), Florent Cuvelier (Loan, Walsall), Andrew Davies (Free, Bradford), Salif Diao (Released), Matthew Lund (Released), Carlo Nash (Released), Mamady Sidibé (Released), Michael Tonge (Released), Jonathan Woodgate (Free, Middlesbrough).
Key Man – Ryan Shawcross
The former Manchester United man has been a rock at the back since his arrival at the Britannia Stadium in 2007. He has formed a formidable partnerhsip with the former Chelsea defender, Robert Huth and in a team that wins by slender margins, his aerial goal threat and presence in both the boxes is an invaluable asset. An injury to either player would be disastrous for Tony Pulis’ side.
18-Aug – Reading (A)
26-Aug – Arsenal (H)
01-Sep – Wigan (A)
15-Sep – Man City (H)
22-Sep – Chelsea (A)
29-Sep – Swansea (H)
Probable Formation (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Popov; Kightly, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington; Walters, Crouch.
Verdict: Stoke’s European adventure had side-effects and it affected their domestic campaign last season, but Tony Pulis’ men still have enough to upset some people over the next nine months. As always with the Potters, it’s their physicality that they will be known for. All over the field lies strength, from the defensive power of Ryan Shawcross to the rough and tumble of Jon Walters at the other end of the field. Peter Crouch adds a bit class to the team, but he’s more likely to bundle one over the line from a long-throw or a corner than score another wonder-volley or a overhead kick. I expect a slight improvement from last season. The fans will hope for a top half finish but with the lack of transfer activity this summer, they should settle for a mid-table position.