Football Season Guide

Stoke City


Joe Allen(mid) (Liverpool), Ramadan Sobhi(mid) (Al Ahly), Ryan Sweeney(def) (Wimbledon)


Steve Sidwell(mid) (Released), Peter Odemwingie(sp)(mid) (Released)

Stoke City enjoyed another solid campaign under Mark Hughes last season as they finished in the top half of the league table for a third successive year. Hughes has managed to achieve one of his aims of changing the perception about his side, turning them from a side known for its physicality and set plays into a side that now employs a more expansive game. This has been done without any slowdown in their progress and after having finished in the lower end of the table in each of Tony Pulis' five seasons in charge of the club, Hughes has now established Stoke as a top half side in the Premier League. After some heavy strengthening in the transfer windows, Stoke almost went one better last season as they headed into the final third of their campaign still in with a good shout of securing European qualification but it was not to be and they had to once again settle for a ninth placed finish. Hughes will be keen kick on this season and emerge as serious challengers for a European qualification spot and Stoke have been slowly and steadily adding to the quality of the squad over the last two transfer windows. Stoke splashed out on a record fee as they brought in Giannelli Imbula and the midfielder is expected to improve further this season after having settled down both at the club and to the pace of the Premier League. Xherdan Shaqiri had an underwhelming campaign last time around but the winger showed enough to warrant increased expectations from the fans as well as Hughes who is looking at his two big money signings to make a more sustained impact this season. Stoke have also brought in Joe Allen in another big money move from Liverpool and the midfielder fits well with how Hughes wants his side to play. Ramadan Sobhi is the only other major acquisition for Stoke this summer, signing from Egyptian side Al Ahly and the winger will challenging Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic for a place in the starting lineup. Stoke are also in the market for a striker, with the club publicly pursuing West Brom's Saido Berahino and hope to reach an agreement with their Premier League rivals before the transfer window shuts down. Stoke have concentrated on improving their midfield and attack but their weak link could be in between the sticks at the other end should Jack Butland suffer an injury. Shay Given and Jakob Haugaard did not live up to the mark when Butland was injured in the final weeks of the campaign and Stoke suffered some of their biggest defeats in the absence of their first choice keeper.


Have enough quality to once again finish in the top half of the table but Hughes will be hoping for more this time around