Early worrying signs at bottom-club Stoke as Spurs run riot

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It was once a long-held theory that a Premier League club wasn’t made of much unless they could do it on a rainy afternoon at Stoke. At the moment, failing to get three points in the Potteries would be seen as an opportunity missed.

Mark Hughes’ side sit rock bottom of the top flight after four games, with their draw away to Middlesbrough on the opening day the only point to their name.

Their home form has been particularly alarming in two outings. Admittedly both games came against two sides that finished last term in the top four, but on both occasions four goals were shipped.

Tottenham followed Manchester City’s lead by netting a quadruple of strikes against their hosts. The Lilywhites have now scored four goals in the Potteries on successive trips and have won more games in Stoke than any other Premier League team.

Despite a lot of work to improve the squad in the transfer market, spending £65m over the last two seasons, there still appears to be a number of shortcomings.

Holding midfield is a position reserved entirely for an ageing and out-of-form Glenn Whelan, despite the back four being regularly exposed to on-rushing opposition.

Options beyond the Irish international are thin and with both Joe Allen and Giannelli Imbula pushing further up the field in a 4-3-3 system, Whelen and the back line are coming under heavy pressure.

Only two teams in the division are conceding more shots per game than Stoke through the first four matches. The result is a league-high 10 goals being conceded.

Either side of the off-season just two wins have arrived in the last 14 league outings, with the Citizens, Lilywhites (twice each) and Liverpool all scoring four goals against Stoke in that time.

Unless things improve drastically over the coming weeks, 7/2 for relegation will look extremely long indeed.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.