Monday, August 11, 2008

EPL Previews: Stoke City

What's the going rate on humiliation?

If you're Dave Kitson, it's apparently £5.5 million. That's the price Stoke City paid so that the red-headed Reading striker could come over and experience the thrill of relegation for the second consecutive season.

Because Stoke is going back down. The only people who don't think so are Stoke City fans and people who believe in fairies, magical gumdrops, and politicians.

But for the season being Stoke is up and for that they get pleasure of being previewed. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a happy ending.

Unless you think that pushing for 19th equals happy.

Starting from the back, with the movement of two American keepers to Villa, Thomas Sorenesen was allowed to walk. Stoke picked him up on a free transfer, so the Potters will have a serviceable keeper with experience at the top flight.

On the back line Stoke will struggle, not Derby-type struggle, but only three teams in the top half of the Colaship—Watford, Ipswich, and Charlton—let in more goals than Stoke during the last campaign. Lack of skill will be compensated for with physical play. Ideally for the candystripers, runs into their defensive third will be nasty, brutish, and short. In reality though, they are still losing often and going back down, and watching it happen might be just brutish for fans of attractive football (or even unattractive football).

The midfield—and manager Tony Pulis probably won't stray from a 4-4-2—will likely feature Liam Lawrence on the right with some combination of Salif Diao Glenn Whelan, and Nigerian Seyi Olofinjana, who is over from Wolves, up the middle. On the left? No idea.

Whoever plugs that hole better be a nominal threat to score as the lot of the likely midfield line-up only total about 60 strikes since 2004.

Who'll be playing up top with Kitson? That might be TBD. Stoke is currently fighting with Hull for the possible services of Claudio Pizarro.

Stoke is also in talks with Valencia over the services of Nikola Zigic, the Croatian Crouchie. Okay, he's actually Serbian, which totally fucks what would be one of the better nicknames in football, but at 6'8" Zigic is really good at being tall.

But that's about the only thing Stoke will be really good at (that's assuming they get him). And even the most optimistic of fans can't put expectations much higher than a fight to avoid rerelegation. If they are close, Stoke does have a couple of late matches where they might be able to pick up points (at Stoke Hull and home to Wigan) but they better be clear before the season's last week as they close at the Emirates.


ü75 said...

Picking up points against themselves at the end? Why hasn't Aberdeen thought of such a move?

Bigus Dickus said...

They also have Marmalade Sidibe. He is 7ft 8. It is gonna be very ugly. Stoke will take hoofball to the Premeiership for the first time and they will not appologize as they will probably get the odd result as frustrated teams try to counter a bout of header tennis.

Precious Roy said...

Yeah, I figure they can at least engineer a draw against themselves.

Oops. Fuck. Sorry. Corrected.

Lingering Bursitis said...

I have a feeling that their strategy will be to kick the ball so high in the air that no-one can touch it

Keith said...

That's also known the Stiliyan Petrov shooting strategy, LB

strong like bull smart like tractor said...

Don't knock that strategy. Bolton has managed to stay in the Prem for how many years now?

Lingering Bursitis said...

Keith: ha ha... oh, Petrov. If Barry does end up leaving, you'll be proper fucked.

Tractor: don't forget they had El-Diouf power on their side for a while, and the might of that sullen Gaul Anelka

Keith said...

I'll even give the Kop a song to sing in March:

(tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic/John Brown's Body)
Stan Petrov would hit a goal up in the stands

Stan Petrov would hit a goal up in the stands

Stan Petrov would hit a goal up in the stands

The goal is on the pitch

Petrov, Petrov hit it loooooower

Petrov, Petrov hit it loooooower

Petrov, Petrov hit it loooooower

The goal is on the pitch

Andrew said...

"Stoke is currently fighting with Hull for the possible services of Claudio Pizarro."

This is why both of them are going down down baby.