A resurrection of the ‘old’ Stoke is necessary at the Britannia

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In years gone by the Britannia Stadium was always one of those grounds that was described as ‘a tough place to go’, with Stoke holding a fearsome reputation in front of their own fans. So where has it gone?

From their six home Premier League matches this season the Potters have picked up just seven points.

But it is the manner in which they are failing to pick up many wins that is of concern to a number of Stoke fans.

Their 2-1 defeat to Burnley at the weekend highlighted how light they have become at the back. Whereas once they were a tough-tackling side, that were a nuisance to break down, some of that bite has gone.

Both goals came from sloppy mistakes, and it hasn’t been the first time their back-line has been guilty of neglecting the basics.

And in adopting a new style under Mark Hughes, they have also lost some of that threat up the other end of the pitch.

Corners and set-pieces were the bread and butter of many a Stoke goal under Tony Pulis, yet this season the only goal from a dead-ball situation was Charlie Adam’s controversial against Swansea.

Their inability to threaten at corners may go some way to explaining why their ‘Goals for’ column is lower than all but five other Premier League team.

So with silly errors at the back and lack of threat at set-pieces, two birds can be killed with one stone by snapping up a no nonsense centre back that is capable of netting a goal or two.

Ryan Shawcross is still more than capable, but with Robert Huth still on the comeback trail, he badly needs a consistent partner in crime.

Out of favour West Brom man Jonas Olsson could be the solution, with the Swede very adept at winning the ball in the air.

Or if Sparky would rather go for a younger model, why not take a punt on former Liverpool youngster Daniel Ayala who has five goals in 32 appearances for Middlesbrough in the Championship.

There will be plenty of options out there in January and Stoke need to start addressing these issues soon or could find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle.

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.