Stoke City have had a nightmare start to the season and currently find themselves in the 19th position with the worst goal difference in the division. This was the season where Mark Hughes was expected to complete the transformation of Stoke into Stokealona but as things stand that segment of the Hughes Act has been shelved as of now.
The Potters have been traditionally known for their robust and physical approach to the game and teams visiting the then Britannia Stadium usually carried bruised memories of the match back home. Notoriously difficult to beat, they carved out a niche in the Premier League. But as the seasons went by, Stoke failed to make any progress footballing-wise and reached a stagnation point which prompted the board to make a drastic shift in approach to how the team would play.
But 3 years in, the decision hasn’t yet been fully justified and after an impressive 9th place finish last season, Stoke have again gone two steps backwards. Now the priorities have to change and as things stand, Mark Hughes seems to have extended the time on his hands with a draw against United.
He has been chopping and changing and is yet to decide on his favourite combination. But with the precarious position he is in, it would be wise to shore up their leaky defence on a priority basis and move further up the pitch.
T4O’s IDEAL STOKE CITY LINE-UP WHEN FULLY FIT (4-2-3-1)
Jack Butland is out currently but will be a big boost when he returns and takes up his rightful place between the sticks. Glenn Johnson at right-back is their best choice right now while Ryan Shawcross and Bruno martins Indi will look to develop a better understanding as the matches go on but they have to steady themselves fast. Eric Pieters hasn’t covered himself in glory but will continue at left-back as of now.
The double pivot has had a complete change with both Imbula and Allen being replaced by Whelan and Cameron. Imbula has loads of potential and should be paired with either Whelan or Cameron in the pivot. Joe Allen has been impressive further forward in the No.10 role and brings a different approach.
Marko Arnautovic hasn’t been able to express himself fully but it is about time the Austrian steps up. He will be on the left-wing with Xherdan Shaqiri on the right wing. The Swiss international is looking much sharper and has to be kept fit for Stoke to have the desired turn-around. Wilfred Bony hasn’t yet fired but has to be persisted with in the near future.