Early plaudits for Mark Hughes’ ‘new-look’ Stoke have since faded in the wake of an eight-match winless streak, and there are some fairly startling stats which suggest the Welshman should revert to a tried and tested formula if he’s to reverse the Potters’ fortunes.
Seeing their side sitting 17th in the Premier League table at the international break does not make particularly easy reading for Stoke fans, with a price as short as 4/1 for relegation, an unwelcome repercussion also.
However, with only four points separating the Potters from 10th-placed West Brom, it’s certainly not terminal for Hughes’ side just yet.
But what Sparky may well have to do to start clocking up some much needed wins, is instruct his players to play in a manner which is simply more Stoke-like.
As it stands, the Premier League’s formerly most feared, physical force, have actually not scored a single headed goal yet this season, while they’ve conspired to concede a league-high four goals off the head of opposition players.
When you consider that two of these were leaked against Arsenal of all clubs, it’s almost as if we’ve landed in a parallel Premier League universe this season.
With players such as ‘two-metre’ Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones up top, ahead of 6ft 4in Steven N’Zonzi in midfield, Stoke should be grabbing more headed goals from open play.
Furthermore, in Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, they have two of the most rough and ready centre-backs in the league, who seem to have lost some of their aerial dominance in either penalty box this season.
It’s true that Stoke have played more attractive football this season, which will please some fans, but as managers are always so quick to tell us, ‘this is a results game’.
Get it in the mixer Hughesy son!
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