Premier League Half-Term Reports: Stoke must try harder

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Team Name: Stoke City

Current Premier League position: 16th

Giddy highs: Getting one over on the champions

It took three matches for Stoke to get their first league win on the board this season, and not many would have predicted it would have come at Manchester City.

Free transfer, and former Manchester United man, Mame Biram Diouf picked up the ball just outside his own penalty area, and ran. And boy did he run.

His 70 yard dribble before slotting the ball under Joe Hart handed the Potters all three points, and boss Mark Hughes his first win at the Etihad since he was sacked as manager there.

Crushing lows: Their lack of killer instinct

While they are undoubtedly playing nice football, Sparky’s side have at times looked lacklustre in front of goal; none more so than in their most recent game at Sunderland.

The visitors failed to take advantage of numerous chances to punish the Black Cats, in what was ultimately a poor performance from both sides.

Improvement will be needed if they are to have a safe campaign.

Shining Star: Victor Moses

The loan signing of the Chelsea man has gone some way to transform that long-worn image of the old ‘direct’ and ‘tough-tackling’ Stoke side of recent years.

The tricky winger has been involved in a number of key moves for the Potters this season, providing the assists in three of the side’s six goals so far in the campaign and will be paramount to their success in the coming months.

Biggest Disappointment: Bojan Krkic

Billed as one of the best signings of the summer, the former Barcelona man has fallen flat during his spell in the Premier League so far.

He has been limited to just two starts and a pair of appearances from the bench and has failed to set the world alight in any of them.

Mark Hughes has said he needs time to bed in, but he will need to deliver something special to avoid being labelled a flop.

Best bet for the rest of the season: To be relegated @ 13/2

Grade: C-

Final Thoughts: They may be closer in points to the top three than the bottom three, despite sitting 16th, however, there could be cause for concern unless the Potters can string some consistency together.

The quality is there, and they could well a top half finish is still within their reach, but overall improvements need to be made. Must try harder.

 All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.