Why Stoke City will survive this season
Stoke City have been part of the Premier League furniture for ten years but now they look in real danger of heading through the trapdoor… they won’t, though.
When Stoke City were promoted to the Premier League in 2008 they were expected to fall straight back out the division. It is fair to say that Tony Pulis and the Rory Delap long throw were not expected to have such an impact but they did and, for a few years, Stoke were never really in danger of relegation.
After Pulis left the club decided to head in a different direction. They brought in Mark Hughes who wanted to add flair to the dogged Stoke side his predecessor left him. Players like Bojan, Xerdan Shaqiri, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Giannelli Imbula, to name just a few, were added to try to turn Stoke into more than just a bottom half side.
While Stoke finished ninth in Hughes first three seasons at the helm, they stuttered to a 13th place finish last season. This year they never got going and Hughes was eventually relieved of his duties with the team facing a rather unexpected relegation.
Although Paul Lambert has won just one of his first 11 games in charge of the Potters, there are still some good reasons why they may not go down.
A kind fixture list
The Potters are in a very fortunate position that all of their final five games are winnable. Here is the list of games: West Ham (A), Burnley (H), Liverpool (A), Palace (H), Swansea (A)
If Stoke can improve their form at the bet365 Stadium – where they have only won once this year – and take six points from Burnley and Crystal Palace then they will put themselves in a great position to succeed.
Away from home, the side have struggled all season having won just once. But West Ham and Swansea are sides who have been poor at home all season.
The Liverpool game may look like a loss for Stoke but the match falls at the perfect time. Klopp and his team will no doubt be concentrating fully on their Champions League semifinal that takes place in the midweek before and after this game.
Will Liverpool really be playing at full speed with their biggest games of the season either side of this one? Stoke will have the best of chances to defeat Liverpool.
Other teams struggling
Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, and Southampton all seem to be on a downward trajectory at the moment. Palace have picked up just six points from their last ten games. Huddersfield and Southampton have managed eight points over that same period.
But Stoke have been just as bad as those sides. So why should it change?
Stoke’s last four games have seen tough tests against Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton, and Tottenham. While that is no excuse for losing four in a row, those games were always going to be difficult.
The surrounding sides, though, have been losing games against teams they should be getting points against if they are to stay up.
Palace admittedly have had a torrid run of fixtures in recent weeks and they can now breathe easier with games that should give them points. Huddersfield and Southampton, though, look like they sinking fast.
The Terriers have dropped points against Brighton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Swansea, Stoke, West Ham, Burnley and Stoke since Boxing Day.
Southampton have also been shocking since then and have dropped points against West Ham, Newcastle, Stoke, Burnley, Brighton, Watford and Crystal Palace in that same time period.
All Stoke need to do to avoid relegation is pick up results because sides around them are tripping over themselves in games they should be winning.
So will Stoke survive?
Well, it will be difficult. While you can see the sides around them dropping points Stoke still have a four-point gap and a far worse goal difference to make up in just five games.
They have a favourable fixture list and a manager who has experience of guiding sides to safety in the Premier League.
Stoke also possess star power that the surrounding sides lack. It is hard to see a team that lines up with players like Jack Butland, Kevin Wimmer, Ryan Shawcross, Xherdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Jese – to name a few – going down.
So backing Stoke to stay up might be a good idea.
Do you think Stoke will stay up this season? Let us know by commenting below.