Stoke announced Paul Lambert as their new manager on Monday and although he may not have admittedly been their first choice after rebuttal’s from both Quique Sanchez Flores and Martin O’Neill they will be hoping that the former Aston Villa and Wolves boss can steer them clear of the relegation zone.
Lambert who won the Champions League in 1997 with Borussia Dortmund takes over a side from Mark Hughes that currently finds itself 19th in the Premier League and with the worst defensive record in the Premier League at present.
That defensive record is something that Lambert is going to have to work on and fast, the Potters are currently conceding more than two goals per game in the Premier League. If that ratio continues until the end of the campaign then they would have shipped something in the region of 80 goals.
That in anyone’s book is relegation form and Lambert may well have to look to the old mantra of ‘if you don’t concede then at least you cannot lose’, however with such a pourous defensive that is something that is obviously easier said than done.
This afternoon Paul Lambert will look to get off to the perfect start as Stoke boss when he welcomes the visit of Huddersfield, the former Scottish international witnessed his new charges be soundly beaten by Manchester United on the same day of his appointment and on that evidence knows there is a lot of work to be done
Due to such a poor goal difference it is almost the equivalent of being a further point behind the clubs that are ahead of them at present. They may only be a point behind Southampton going into this game but it is going to need nothing less than a win to leapfrog them this afternoon.
Today’s opponents Huddersfield enter this fixture off the back of a heavy defeat at home to West Ham last weekend, one that has seem the slide down to 14th in the table and the once comfortable buffer they had between them and the relegation zone now diminishing at an alarming rate.
What would have also been alarming was the manner in which they lost to West Ham last week, their was an element of naivety in the Hammers first goal as Huddersfield were caught dallying with possession on the edge of their area and were then suitably punished.
I guess credit has to go to David Wagner for at least trying to stick to his principles but perhaps there also needs to be a bit of pragmatism when trying to fight for your Premier League status, as Frank Lampard referenced on Match Of The Day last weekend.
It’s not necessarily about lumping long balls but simply being smarter in how you keep possession and when to try and play the neat football, yes it looks easy on the eye but when it goes wrong then the outcome is plain for all to see.
If Stoke have defensive issues then Huddersfield have them at the other end of the pitch, they are the fourth lowest goalscorers in the league at present and they themselves are not all that watertight either. They have scored 19 goals and also conceded 39.
To have a minus 20 goal difference at this stage of the season, will undoubtedly be a concern as the Yorkshire outfit are just above keeping their heads above water, but should results continue to go against them then that negative goal tally will also work against them in the same manner as it will for Stoke.
Can Paul Lambert get the win that he and Stoke will both be looking for today, to be honest I’m not sure the new manager bounce will come into full effect. Huddersfield have not been great as of late but they do have a habit of getting unlikely results. I reckon this one will be a draw.