Stoke have undergone a massive change this summer, replacing Tony Pulis with Mark Hughes. Hughes has said that he wants to change the style that has become synonymous with Stoke. However, he has only strengthened in defence, with Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa coming in from PSV and Barcelona respectively. These are high profile deals for a team like Stoke; however their defence were the 7th best in the League last season. Their attack will still rely on Peter Crouch, suggesting that long balls and set pieces will be vital if Stoke want to stay up. However by not strengthening the second worst attack last year, Stoke are in serious peril this year.
Key Player: Ryan Shawcross. The no-nonsense defender has become a key player for Stoke, captaining them for the last 4 years. His defensive strength was recognised by Roy Hodgson, last season giving him his first cap against Sweden. Stoke don’t concede many, and their survival this year will rely on a solid foundation.
One to Watch: Marc Muniesa. The 21 year old Spaniard will have a bit of a culture shock having moved from sunny Barcelona. This transfer is the living embodiment of the cliché ‘how would those Barcelona players cope on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke?’ He can play at either left back or centre back, so he is likely to play often this year.