Stoke are undergoing a pretty poor start, one that would have been further highlighted after their 4-0 home defeat to Tottenham on Saturday. It’s now three successive defeats for Mark Hughes and just one solitary point all season as they are Premier League’s basement side.
That is the second home defeat in a row in which they have shipped four goals and although the opposition was Manchester City and Tottenham that has got to be a major concern for Hughes and the fact that what used to be known as The Britannia Stadium is no longer the fortress it once was.
The fear factor from going to Stoke seems to have been removed and the fact that they have conceded eight goals in just two matches is something that will need to be addressed with some urgency. Ryan Shawcross seems to be having a torrid time of late as he is failing to set a Captains example.
Another thing that certainly isn’t helping is not having Jack Butland in goal. You could see the decline in Stoke’s form last season once Butland was injured on international duty for England and that form hasn’t improved since the start of this one.
Shay Given has been a tremendous servant for a whole host of Premier League clubs but at 40 year old you get the feeling that father time is starting to catch up with him. He looked almost helpless on Saturday as Spurs ran roughshod over the Stoke defence in the second half.
In Midfield Stoke fans are still waiting for some sort of performance from Joe Allen. £12m may have seemed somewhat of a bargain after he signed from Liverpool especially after his performances for Wales during Euro 2016 but it’s almost as if he has regressed back to the functional but not game changing midfielder that spent 4 years on Merseyside.
That can so often be the case though a player can look so impressive in a major Summer tournament only to then not match those levels of performances when back in the colours of their club. It just goes to show how different club and international football setups can be.
On the basis of his performance on Saturday you do have to wonder how Charlie Adam is still a Premier League level footballer. He seems to be dining out on the fact he scored that fantastic goal against Chelsea from his own half, since then he only seems to be good for another attempt of that nature. In the 20 or so minutes he featured against Tottenham he looked woefully off the pace, he’s never been the most athletic of players but he was getting shown up all too easily in the middle of the park.
Stoke have found goals hard to find this season, they have only found the net twice and they haven’t scored in open play since Xhedran Shaqiri’s equaliser away at Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season. That has already left them with a goal difference of minus 8
It’s stark reading which ever way you want to look at it, there’s no question yet that Hughes time at Stoke is under threat but this is certainly not the start that they would have hoped for. After a creditable 9th place finish last time around the hope would have been start the season brightly and aim to kick on by earning a Europa League place.
There is still plenty of time for the issues to be addressed but they are going to have to address them quickly before the rot really does set in and Stoke find themselves cast adrift. First they have to make sure they stop the leak at the back especially at home, a few clean sheets and the confidence will slowly come back to the side.
It’s not a crisis at Stoke but the start could not be much worse in all fairness, Saturday’s game away at Crystal Palace already takes on additional importance.