Stoke interesting long shot in Premier League minus the ‘big six’

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After starting the season as well as they could realistically hoped to have done, Stoke have demonstrated their worth in the race to win the Premier League without the inclusion of the ‘big six’.

Ladbrokes qualify this elect group as both Manchester factions, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. These are all relatively nailed on to comprise the top six places in the division this season, but Stoke’s 11/1 to be next in the placings following them could well be worth a few quid.

Beating a newly promoted club in the early exchanges of the season can often prove challenging, but the Potters scuppered Crystal Palace before becoming the first team to have a shot on target, never mind score a goal, against West Ham when they picked up an unexpected away win at Upton Park.

This decent return would’ve been a point better off had Jon Walters not missed a spot-kick in injury-time at Anfield, where his side lost 1-0 to Liverpool on the opening day.

Everton are the current favourites to claim seventh, despite starting the season in far less convincing fashion than Mark Hughes’ men after being handed much kinder fixtures.

Similarly, while likes of Aston Villa and Southampton have made some significant additions to their squads, whether they’re warranting of their far shorter prices to claim seventh than Stoke is questionable too, with avoiding relegation very much remaining their seasonal remit.

With Hughes at the helm, the Potters have a manager who has a proven track record of churning out consistent top-half finishes when plucking tight purse strings and the early signs suggest he could well do it again.

He guided Blackburn to seventh spot in 2007/08, missing out on a top-six spot by the small margin of two points and took Fulham to eighth in 2010/11.

Combine these figures with their encouraging start and it’s not impossible to envisage Stoke fighting it out for an upper mid-table spot come the end of the season, despite their massive price indicating quite the opposite.

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