Skip to content

Premier League Preview: Stoke City

Aug 8, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

Stokebadge

Each day from now until the beginning of the Premier League season, we will preview two teams from England’s top flight. You can view them all here at PST Preview central. Don’t forget, the 2013-14 PL season begins on August 17th, and for the first-time ever you can watch every game live on NBC Sports.

Stoke City have been in the top flight five consecutive seasons now, and with their reputation for the long ball, they’ve produced some of the less exciting matches during their Premier League stay.  During those five seasons, they have failed to push into the top 10 in the table, but have also not been too involved in any serious relegation battles.  Their table finishes since being promoted last have been a consistent 12th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 13th.  However, new management will look to some United States internationals to help crack the top half of the table for the first time since their automatic promotion.

Transfers in: D Marc Muniesa (Barcelona B, Spain), D Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), F Juan Agudelo – January 2014 (New England Revolution)

Transfers Out: GK Carlo Nash (Norwich City, England), D Matthew Upson (Brighton Hove & Albion, England), M Rory Delap (Burton Albion, England), M Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough, England), F Michael Owen (retired)

source: Getty ImagesKey Player: One of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League last season was Asmir Begovic (pictured), who practically kept Stoke out of the relegation battle single-handedly. Tony Pulis’s defense last season was a disaster, and Begovic was the biggest reason they gave up just 45 goals – fewer than any club finishing 8th or lower.

Stoke go as Begovic goes. The 26-year-old Bosnian was one of just four goalkeepers in the Premier League to have played every minute for the club, along with Joe Hart, Jussi Jaaskelainen, and Simon Mignolet.  By December 31 of last season, the keeper had the most clean sheets in the league with 9, which saw Stoke up to 8th position in the table.

To fix the leaks at the back, Stoke have shrewdly brought in highly-rated 21-year-old central defender Marc Muniesa from Barcelona on a free transfer, much to the surprise of many in the league.  The team also acquired young goalkeeping star Jack Butland in January after rumors flew that Begovic was on his way out to a Champions League club.  However, after Stoke warded off Arsenal and other suitors, Begovic will still be the key man for Stoke’s survival this season.

Manager: Tony Pulis stepped down after seven years in charge, an eternity in the European game these days.  Pulis was unable to get Stoke out of its stagnant bottom-half state, so by “mutual consent” the two sides went their separate ways.

Fellow Welshman, the “ambitious” Mark Hughes has taken his place, and after a tumultuous past three years, it’s probably Hughes’ last chance to prove to those in the game he can manage at a high level.  Hughes was sacked at Manchester City, but found himself amidst a successful year at Fulham.  The following summer, Hughes inexplicably left the job, proclaiming Fulham wasn’t “ambitious” enough for his liking, burning all his bridges there and creating quite a number of enemies.

He didn’t have a job in place when he left, and was passed over for jobs at Chelsea and Aston Villa.  He remained jobless for a year until being picked up by Queens Park Rangers, only to find himself sacked 6 months later with QPR bottom of the table.

Understandably, Hughes is in a position where only some serious success at Stoke could put him back on the radar of top clubs around the continent.

Outlook: Mark Hughes and the bunch have much to prove, although their findings in the transfer market (or lack thereof) don’t exactly reflect that. Hughes now has four Americans at his disposal, with Juan Agudelo joining Brek Shea, Geoff Cameron, and Maurice Edu. He needs to get moving to fill many more holes, including their difficulties last season scoring goals – they registered 34 scores, second-worst in the entire league. USMNT youngster Agudelo could help out here but that’s not until January. If they can’t find a player who wants to put the ball in the back of the net at the Britannia, it could be another long season for the Potters, and relegation could even be peeking over their shoulder come next spring.

Latest Posts
  1. Adnan Januzaj out injured for Manchester United, Ander Herrera to start up top?

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Club Brugge - UEFA Champions League: Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg Getty Images

    With Adnan Januzaj out injured, Ander Herrera could see himself playing in a more advanced role against Swansea City.

  2. Done Deals: Everton inks South American duo, Sunderland signs Toivonen

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    FBL-ARGENTINA-RIVER-BANFIELD Getty Images

    Find out what moves have been completed as the transfer deadline approaches.

  3. Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:48 PM EDT

    Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Spurs are still looking for their first win of the season, but face a tough test when Everton travels to White Hart Lane.

  4. Donald Trump denies report linking him with purchase of Argentinian soccer club

    Aug 28, 2015, 6:53 PM EDT

    Donald Trump AP

    I guess the Donald is a bit too busy to be buying a soccer club right now…

  5. Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: West Brom agrees for Evans, De Guzman to Bournemouth

    Aug 28, 2015, 5:57 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Catch up on all the latest gossip from around the Premier League, right here.

  6. Wolfsburg sporting director: “De Bruyne is off to Manchester City”

    Aug 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptewzmi3mzvjnwu1odkzodm5nwzlowe4otg1nwe2odyy AP

    The deal is expected to be official within the next 24 hours as Manchester City’s offer was too good to refuse.

  7. Report: Manchester United planning massive $112 million bid for Arjen Robben

    Aug 28, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Arjen Robben AP

    With the close of the transfer window quickly approaching, could Louis van Gaal be on the verge of the summer’s biggest signing?

  8. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace

    Aug 28, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Chelsea clinched the title last season with a win against Crystal Palace, and the Blues will be looking for a similar result on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

  9. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Home advantage for heavyweights – Week 4

    Aug 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Editor and Lead Writer predicts the scores for every PL game this weekend.

  10. WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 4

    Aug 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game this weekend.

  11. Premier League Preview: Newcastle United vs. Arsenal

    Aug 28, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Gunners kick-start their season at St James? Watch live, NBCSN, Saturday 7:45 a.m. ET.

  12. MLS preview: Earthquakes vs. Galaxy, Sounders vs. Timbers headline Rivalry Week

    Aug 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy

    Rivalry Week is upon us once again, and if it lives up to the last edition, we’re going to be in for a mighty good time.

  13. VIDEO: LA Galaxy superstar Steven Gerrard is a huge Taylor Swift fan

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT

    New York City FC v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    Liverpool and England legend seems to be enjoying life in LA. Check out his video of Swifty.

  14. Europa League draw: Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur get tough test in group stage

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Premier League teams will rack up plenty of air miles this season in Europa League action.

  15. Kevin de Bruyne deal moves closer after “astonishing” offer to join Manchester City

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo Wolfsburg's Kevin De Bruyne plays the ball during the Europa League Group H soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and Everton FC at the Volkswagen Arena stadium in Wolfsburg, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) AP

    Wolfsburg admit to talks over KDB, as City’s offer of wages blow Bundesliga side out of the water.

  16. CONCACAF aims for 50-50 crowd split for USA vs. Mexico clash at Rose Bowl

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:04 AM EDT

    Carlos Salcedo, Jordan Morris AP

    Segregation of U.S. and Mexico fans key for CONCACAF for huge showdown in Pasadena.

  17. Help for Harry: Tottenham Hotspur sign $30 million forward Heung-Min Son

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:20 AM EDT

    Bayer 04 Leverkusen v SC Freiburg - Bundesliga Getty Images

    South Korean international becomes Spurs’ third most-expensive signing in club history.

  18. Arsene Wenger concedes Arsenal “maybe not firing on all cylinders” yet

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Getty Images

    Why yes, Mr. Wenger, one would have to agree with that assessment. In particular, it’s the finishing that’s killing them, he says.

  19. 2016 Copa America Centenario will be played, but CONCACAF might not be involved

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:13 PM EDT

    Copa America trophy — 2015 Copa America Copa America trophy — 2015 Copa America

    Next summers tournament will go on, but CONCACAF might not participate, which means the Copa needs a new host nation.

  20. Men in Blazers podcast: An afternoon spent inside the mind of Jose Mourinho

    Aug 27, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog talks with Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho about his coaching philosophy, post-match press conferences and football in America.

Featured video

Premier League, Week 3 review