Stoke City endured a terrible 3-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa yesterday.
The defeat was concerning for the Potters, as the Britannia Stadium has been a fortress in recent seasons, and yesterday they surrendered the game so easily.
Stoke really did put in a lifeless display against Villa. They struggled to attack the visitors in the first half and hardly mustered an attempt on goal. The Stoke attack looked unlikely to breach the Villa backline.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has done a decent job to get Stoke to the top flight and keep the Potters competitive in the Premier League. Pulis has received criticism for the teams’ style of play from external sources in the past.
However, most of the Stoke fans have been behind their boss and team as they were getting results. It may not have been a pretty on the eye style of play, but the style kept the club in the Premier League.
I do not think Stoke fans ever expected their team to play like Barcelona, but it seems in recent months the Potters fans are becoming more disconsolate at their teams performance and style.
It seems that Pulis is not the popular boss he once was at the Britannia Stadium and some Stoke fans want the former-Plymouth boss to be sacked. I don’t think it’s the right time for Stoke to sack their manager though.
Pulis needs to find a way to turn his sides form around in a short space of time, because at the moment they are playing like a team heading in the wrong direction. Something has to change or the Stoke boss could find himself in big trouble.
Earlier this season Stoke were one of the most solid defensive teams and teams were finding it hard to break them down, especially at the Britannia Stadium. Now they are leakier than a sieve.
The amount of goals that the Potters have started conceding is worrying. It is even more concerning when it means they are conceding against teams below them in the league table.
Unfortunately, Stoke are struggling at the other end of the pitch. They seem to be struggling to create and score goals. On the bench yesterday were two former-England strikers in the shape Michael Owen and Peter Crouch.
When Stoke needed a goal though Tony Pulis decided to send on Cameron Jerome instead. In my view, either of the former-England internationals would have given Stoke more of an attacking threat.
Crouch and Owen may not be in the prime of their careers, but they still offer a threat of scoring a goal for the Potters. However, Stoke need to start to creating more goalscoring opportunities.
Stoke’s relegation rivals have found some form in recent weeks. Eighteenth place Wigan have a game in-hand and are currently playing at QPR. Should the Latics win then Stoke will be just three points away from the relegation zone.
Stoke cannot afford to keep losing with other teams towards the bottom of the table starting to pick up form. The Potters host runaway Premier League leaders Manchester United next weekend. It will be a difficult game and their rivals could move closer to the Potters with victories.
Stoke now look as if they are in a real battle for their Premier League lives this season. The Potters are famous for their battling qualities and now is the time to make the most of them.
They will need all those battling qualities to stay in the Premier League, because now they look like a side that could be playing Championship football next season.
Will Stoke be relegated this season?