Stoke City’s dismal start the Premier League season continued at the weekend as they were thrashed 4-1 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. This result followed on from last week’s rout at the hands of Spurs.
The Stoke mentality, of organisation, strength and discipline, has somehow vanished. The Stoke players looked lost and sluggish throughout the Palace game.
They struggled to deal with the creativity of the Crystal Palace wingers and throughout the game they constantly gave away needless free-kicks which ultimately cost them, conceding 3 goals from set-pieces.
When Stoke had the ball they couldn’t capitalise which lead to Palace taking advantage on the counter-attack.
Under the leadership of Mark Hughes, we have seen real development in the quality of football we have seen at Stoke.
They have players who can change a game single handily with Bojan and Arnautovic especially adding a great deal to the Potters.
Stoke have also made some decent signings this season, in Wilfred Bony and Joe Allen and maybe, when these players bed into the Stoke set up, they will make a difference.
Before the season started, Stoke would be looking at challenging for European football. However, it’s hard to push into the elite positions in the league and maybe the real threat of relegation lurking will give the Stoke the impetuous to push on. Maybe we will see the Stoke team fortunes change.
To add to the pressure, Mark Hughes is also the bookies favourite to be the next manager sacked in the Premier League. This is Mark Hughes’ first difficult time at Stoke and you could see his frustration boil over against Spurs last week.
If Stoke and Mark Hughes are to avoid been part of the relegation mix, they need to start implementing the old-school mentality of playing as the solid defensive and attacking unit we associate with Stoke City.
They should take solace in the fact that their up coming fixtures include: West Brom, Sunderland, West Ham and Hull City; all of which are winnable games for the West Midlands side.
I really like Stoke and I hope everything will come together for them. Although vast improvements will need to be made for that to happen.
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