Stoke City has been around in the Premier League for eight years now. The Potters have established themselves firmly as a Premier League club since they secured promotion on the final day of the 2007/08 season by finishing as the Championship’s runner-up. Stoke City made a name for them in the top flight with their unforgiving physical approach under former manager Tony Pulis and were even highly criticized for their brand of football which led to injuring several opposition players. However, the ploy worked well for the club and helped them survive in the top flight and even thrive gradually as they reached the final of the F.A Cup in 2010/11.
After the departure of Tony Pulis in 2013, Stoke appointed former Blackburn and Manchester City manager Mark Hughes as the new manager and in his three years at the Britannia Stadium, Hughes has transformed the team from a physical, aggressive, unpolished long ball side to a proper passing outfit capable of constructing intricate moves while still retaining the solidity at the back. Under Hughes the Potters finished in the 9th place for three consecutive seasons and next season, they would be targeting to get into Europe and do even better.
Stoke City has considerably changed their approach and outlook in the last couple of years and with their new brand of football has been able to attract players like Bojan, Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Imbula into the club. The forward line has the likes of Mame Diouf, Peter Crouch, Marko Arnautovic, Bojan and Joselu who are all well capable of scoring and troubling opposition defences. The midfield is also well stocked with the likes of players like Shaqiri, Ireland, Afellay, Whelan and Imbula.
The recent acquisitions of former Swansea and Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is an excellent addition while the capture of the exciting Egypt international Ramadan Sobhi indicates that the wing-play would provide the x-factor for the Potters next season. The only area where the club is currently short at is the defence.
The club is well off in the Goalkeeping department with an excellent goalkeeper in Jack Butland who has proved his quality in recent years. The backline, however, needs some additions. Erik Pieters and Ryan Shawcross are good, capable defenders but the club needs a better backup than Phis Bardsley and Marc Muniesa. Philip Wollscheid though has proved to be very successful and talented player for Stoke after a slow start. The basic problem lies in the fullback positions and the club needs to get some fresh blood into the contest for a spot as the fullback rather than pinning their hopes on Glenn Johnson as the right-back.
If Stoke can get a decent fullback in the summer then the squad will be more than able to compete for the European places in the upcoming season. Under Mark Hughes, Stoke thus can once again be the team which can surprise its opponents with their passing moves and attacking play while defending strongly at the back. With the Britannia Stadium already changed to the Bet365 Stadium, people would still be asking the question for their opponents with the same intensity as to ‘Can they do it on a cold rainy night at Stoke?’ and Mark Hughes would be making sure that when their opponents do visit the ground, the home team will have some more tricks up their sleeve so that they can push upwards than their familiar 9th spot in the Barclays Premier League table.