Stoke City were left licking their wounds after suffering a 7-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on October 14 with the Potters dropping into 17th position, just two points above the relegation zone. They won’t be the only side to collapse at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s men but the manner of their collapse was particularly worrying for Stoke fans.
Mark Hughes remained upbeat following his side’s heavy loss at the Etihad Stadium with the Welshman acknowledging that the leaders were “quicker, stronger and anticipated things far quicker than us”, before singling out Kevin De Bruyne for praise, admitting: “For me, he is the best player in the Premier League by a country mile.”
Some Stoke fans have become exasperated with Hughes’ tactics after watching their club win just four times in their last 19 Premier League matches although their home victories over Arsenal and Southampton will have bought the manager a bit more time to turn things around.
Stoke have a relatively winnable run of the games throughout the latter half of October and early November, including trips to Selhurst Park and the Amex sandwiched in between home ties against Leicester and Swansea and fans will want to see a positive reaction.
Hughes was left short-handed ahead of the Manchester City tie but decided to field teenage defender Tom Edwards who was given the runaround by Leroy Sane, while Potters fans are yet to be convinced by £15 million man Kevin Wimmer who has struggled to slot in. Stoke were rarely able to keep possession and looked incredibly pedestrian in the centre of the park and cannot afford any further lethargic performances this season.
Supporters have been left concerned by the lack of progress with the club seemingly moving sideways for a number of seasons, although many will argue the case that they had three fewer points by the same stage last year.
Stoke have been in the top flight since 2008 and have never finished below 14th in the table. The team from the Potteries have never been dragged into a relegation dogfight during their time in the Premier League and are the archetypal mid-table outfit. Their pre-season odds suggested another comfortable campaign in the top tier although many savvy punters pointed towards possible struggles this season with Stoke proving a value bet compared the odds-on prices attached to two of the newly promoted sides.
Following their 7-2 mauling, they’ve been moved amongst the favourites for relegation this season. Free-falling Huddersfield remain at the shortest odds to return to the Championship, which may prove value for those who check the latest betting offers and promotions available for backing the Potters to suffer relegation this campaign.
Stoke have underperformed so far this season and Mark Hughes must ensure his side get back to basics following their heavy loss at the Etihad. Beating the sides around them in the table is vitally important and they face a number of bottom half teams prior to a typically hectic Christmas period. There has been very little evidence to suggest that the club are moving forward this season and they could be a surprise candidate for relegation from the Premier League if performances fail to improve.