They don’t make them as consistent as Stoke City in the Premier League – their past three league finishes have seen the Potters finish ninth, ninth and, you guessed it, ninth. Although fans of the club would like to think otherwise, bettering Stoke’s recent standings, for all the interesting signings made, will be a tall order.
The traditional top four morphed into a highly-competitive top eight last season, which is sure to increase if Chelsea and Everton are to up their game. Stoke have their work cut out for sure, but the potential to makes waves under Mark Hughes is still there. Here’s how they could shape up in the coming season: Formation: 4-3-3.
Back Five: Jack Butland; Glen Johnson, Ryan Shawcross, Philipp Wollscheid, Erik Pieters
Jack Butland will be hurting, quite literally, after missing out on Euro 2016 action due to an ankle injury sustained in March. New eyes now take up the position of power at international level in the form of Sam Allardyce’s managerial appointment, with Butland ready to once again gear up for the fight to become the Three Lions’ number one. Last season saw the goalkeeper stop more shots from inside the box than any other in the league, so he’s on the right path.
In front of the 23-yer-old stands Ryan Shawcross, entrusted by Hughes to captain Stoke and defend the club’s core values on the pitch, as well as impede the opposition from peppering Butland’s goal, as I’m sure he’d appreciate it. Erik Pieters gives Hughes an easy decision at left back. The ex-PSV Eindhoven won more tackles (91) than any other defender last season, who’s also ranked fourth in duels won with a total of 194.