By all accounts Stoke have been one of the sides underachieving so far in the Premier League. One of the more active teams in the transfer market over the summer, many expected the Potters to push for a top-half finish this term, but as of yet they have shown little to suggest they are capable of this. Next up for Stoke is a tricky trip to Everton which might be crucial in ensuring that Tony Pulis’ side aren’t dragged in to a relegation scrap this term.
Now in their third season back in the big time, Stoke are gradually going about changing their reputation as the brutes of the league. While there is still no doubting the Potters commitment and general work ethic, what has been noticeable is their subtle movement away from their notorious long-ball game.
Unfortunately though this hasn’t always brought results and after nine games Stoke are sitting in the precarious position of 13th place. While the league is tight at the moment, and there is a whole host of teams separated by a few points, defeat tomorrow could see Stoke fall in to the bottom three.
Speak to Stoke fans and they will tell you that avoiding defeat tomorrow is vital, because they realise that results haven’t come as easy this season. If the Potters were to fall in to the drop-zone at this early stage, their inconsistency might make it difficult for them to claw themselves to safety.
Unlike other years, there isn’t a team which is going to be a certainty for the drop and the league is very even. But somebody has got to go down, and despite their investment in the likes of Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jermaine Pennant over the summer there is no reason at all why the Potters aren’t as vulnerable as everybody else.
Personally I feel that in order to guarantee safety Pulis might have to resort back to his old ways, which is grinding out results and been very difficult to play against, in my opinion this needs to start by returning from Merseyside with at least a point.