Stoke City Premier League Preview
Players In: Michael Kightly, Jamie Ness
Players Out: Andrew Davies, Jonathan Woodgate, Danny Collins
Stoke under Tony Pulis have been consistently tough to beat and tough to play against. Strong physical players with great discipline playing in a very simple tactical gameplan will always test any team. Their run in Europe showed they can compete but it is doubtful if they can get to those heights again. With signs that even their own fans are disappointed with the lack of evolution in the last three years it could be an interesting season for Pulis to contend with.
There has been little action this summer for Pulis and this may be on account of his relatively meagre returns from what has been a substantial outlay in the last three years. Surely he will be looking to make some adjustments and get his team playing some passing football at times. The signing of Kightly just provides them with another winger to feed crosses to Peter Crouch and the other giants. None of the top tier clubs like to loan their players to Stoke as they feel the playing philosophy is far too different. Without this ability to strengthen their squad on the cheap they will be forced to make permanent signings and all the indications are that Pulis has little or no money to use.
It is hard to see how Stoke can change whilst they keep their current personnel. Two passing midfielders would be a dream for the neutral but that hardly seems on the horizon. Even one who could work alongside Palacios would be an improvement. Missing out on Jonny Howson could cost them as he is likely to shine for Norwich this season.
First game analysis:
Michael Kightly made a bright start on his Stoke debut, taking an age to decide to shoot, kicking his shot into the ground only for Federici to let him have the goal. Kightly is the only real addition to this Stoke side which is increasingly becoming found out by Premier League sides. They were in control for 80 minutes against Reading and looked to be grinding out three points but they lost their discipline in the last 10, which eventually cost them the win. With no signings on the horizon expect more of the same from Stoke under Pulis.
With no further additions this could be a tough season for Stoke in what promises to be an extremely close season. Once again it is highly likely that the top five or six teams will be separated by just a few points with a handful of games to go. Will their experience give them an advantage or will their tired tactics finally come unstuck?