Stoke City were held to a goalless draw in Saturday’s Premier League clash with West Ham United – leaving them with just one win in their last nine – and look on course for their lowest points total since 2012/13.
It’s been six years since the Potters lost more than 15 games in the Premier League, and the club appear to be sleep-walking in the second-half of the season which could see manager Mark Hughes under pressure this summer.
Lack of goals due to mismatched playing philosophy
Mark Hughes’ Stoke City side are 12th in the Premier League table with 40 points from 35 games this season, having failed to score in five of their last eight outings. Only four clubs have scored fewer goals than the Potters (37) this season, and the side’s changed in playing style may be to blame.
City started the season without a win in their first seven games, scoring just five goals and picking up three points. Stoke, playing a more patient and attractive style that relied upon playmakers threading passes through opposition defence, enjoyed a prolific period of form between October – January (five wins, three draws, four defeats), but things have fallen apart since.
Three league wins in the last four months tells its own story and Stoke being stuck on 40 points in the bottom-half with only three games remaining isn’t what supporters and the club owners expected. Stoke have been more direct in their playing style in recent months while being beaten most weeks without a fight.
Standing still means going backwards
Supporters will be frustrated this season has largely been a waste, and Stoke sitting closer to the relegation zone than the top-seven will be disappointing. City’s lowest points tally in the top-flight is 42 (2012/13) so one more win would at least surpass that, but it won’t paper over the cracks. Changes will have to be made to ensure the side can push for a top-half finish in 2017/18.
Given the lack of quality from a number of clubs outside of the top-seven this season, just six points separate 8th and 16th so Stoke do have a chance of a better finish in the table if they can find some form. But Hughes will have questions asked of him as his side have showcased relegation form at times and don’t have the most convincing total with three games remaining. Consolidation isn’t good enough anymore.
Stoke City are 2/9 to finish in the bottom-half of the Premier League table this season. But will Mark Hughes still be in charge to rectify the situation in 2017/18?
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