Friday, 12 February 2016

What has happened to Stoke City since Christmas?

It's all gone a bit haywire for Mark Hughes at Stoke City since the New Year and he is fast losing his grip on the good work that his team has pout in over the first half of the season. It was a similar picture to when the two sides last met with Stoke City unable to win at home and AFCB's defeat at the Britannia started their season. Now Mark Hughes is looking to pick up some confidence in his side's performances which was completely shot by defeat in the Capital One Cup semi-final and has not recovered since.

Stoke City have not won away in the Premier League since 28 December when they were ninth in the table. Four points from their next six games is not the kind of form that might have been expected, but they are now facing sides that are fighting to stay in the league with important games for them against AFCB, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Chelsea. They dare not come away without points in these types of games, but Mark Hughes is aware that his side is lacking something and is desperate to have a good week in the build up to the game at Dean Court which is likely to be pivotal to their season in which direction it goes.
When Ryan Shawcross plays for  Stoke City side
the stats say the Potters are harder to beat - but he's out!
The back injury to Ryan Shawcross in late January against Leicester City has certainly not helped Stoke City, but if losing one player makes that much difference then they have major problems. Charlie Adams, Jonathan Walters, Mark Wilson and Geoff Caermon have also been out in recent weeks. Shawcross hoped to be back to face AFCB, but he is not going to travel. However, Bojan Krkic has boosted their team's spirit though by signing four-and-a-half year a contract that will keep him at Britannia until 2020.

Stoke City also have to work out how they can quickly integrate new £18.3m signing Giannelli Imbula into their attack without taking away from Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay. The balance was probably not right in their last defeat against Everton and you never know we could even see Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch get a game. It appears  that Mark Hughes is looking for his strikers to be more aggressive with their passing in the last third rather than taking too many safe pass options near the box.

AFCB will certainly be looking to restrict Stoke's chances in front of goal which appear low at the moment with only two shots on target against Leicester, none against Man Utd and three against Everton. Already out of the FA Cup, Stoke fans may not want to watch much of the rest of this season if they lose at Dean Court.

Stoke City Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Probable AFCB team: 4-5-1 Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Stanislas, Surman, Arter, Gosling, Pugh, Afobe

Bench: Federici, Distin, Iturbe, Grabban, Ritchie, Murray, King

Score Prediction

Send in your predicted score for #AFCB v #Arsenal to @peterbell19 on Twitter. Please make your score clear to understand.

If you have a correct score prediction you are in with a chance of winning the Cherry Chimes prize which is a pair of AFCB sweat bands this week. If two or more people have the correct score the winner will be picked out of the hat. Good luck!

Thanks again to Cherry Chimes Sponsors for this season Broomhill Garden BuildingsNatterjacks Vets and AltamiraDeco.

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