Stoke’s failure to address lack of goals leaves them primed for drop

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Only once in the history of the Premier League have all three promoted sides gone straight back down to the second tier, so there is a strong likelihood that at least one of last season’s top-flight stayers will find themselves in the Championship for the 2014/15 campaign.

The one team that sticks out most to fill this obligation is Stoke, with Ladbrokes offering the top price on their Premier League relegation at 10/3.

Their failure to bring in a new striker this summer is the chief reason Stoke are expected to struggle, given that this is a department where they have fallen short in each of the last two campaigns.

Despite spending £10m on Peter Crouch and bringing in Cameron Jerome on a free, in 2011/12 Stoke were the worst scorers in the top-flight, netting just 36 times.

Then last season they again failed to average a goal per game, finding the net on even fewer occasions with an overall tally of 34.

Given that they have conceded less than 50 goals in three of the last four Premier League seasons, it is pretty clear-cut on which part of his squad Mark Hughes should have been looking to strengthen in his first campaign at the Britannia Stadium.

But no striking recruits have been brought in and neither have there been any creative midfield squad additions.

Instead, Hughes has decided that signing two new defenders was a more worthwhile move, with Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa expected to occupy the two full-back positions.

A positive is that this duo should ensure Stoke are more productive at building from the back in a passing sense, rather than the long-ball tactics that they have been largely become renowned for.

Given that only one Stoke player has reached double figures for goals in the last four seasons and this was Crouch scoring exactly 10 in 2010/11, the net is unlikely to bulge much again and this must leave Stoke caught up in the relegation mix.

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

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.