Last season: 13th
FA Cup: Runners-up
Carling Cup: Fourth round
Opening three fixtures: Chelsea (h), Norwich (a), West Brom (a)
Transfers in: Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham, free); Matthew Upson (West Ham, free)
Transfers out: Andrew Davies (Crystal Palace, loan); Carl Dickinson (Watford, undisclosed); Matthew Lund (Oldham, loan); Abdoulaye Faye (released); Eidur Gudjohnsen (released); Ibrahima Sonko (released)
Key man: Matthew Etherington
Odds for relegation: 10/1
The Premier League now looks tougher than ever, with many of the top ten clubs again spending heavily in the summer window. Stoke had another great season last time out, with a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup and a solid showing in the league. However, with probable European commitments to navigate and the club yet to fully exploit the transfer market, boss Tony Pulis will know that Premier League survival is by no means guaranteed.
Odds for finishing last: 33/1
We have seen European debutants fall apart domestically before. Let’s hope the Potters’ legs aren’t turned to jelly by the long midweek trips abroad, assuming they make the Europa League group stages. Stoke have also lost a lot of experience with the departures of Sonko, Faye and Gudjohnsen. Having said that, odds of 33/1 for Stoke to finish bottom of the league are unlikely to find much support.
Odds for finishing above Bolton: 17/20
After last season’s heroics, most Stoke fans will of course be much more optimistic about their side’s chances for the coming year. Pulis has done a fantastic job in his second stint at the club and given City a robust and steely edge that is crucial for Premier League survival. Kenwyne Jones and, more recently, Jermaine Pennant have added substance to their attack and few teams will look forward to a trip to the Britannia. If Europe doesn’t prove too draining, Stoke can build on recent success and a league finish above Bolton looks a wise bet at 17/20.
Pulis has shown himself to be a canny operator and has led Stoke to three comfortable mid-table finishes in the Potters’ time in the Premier League. Having signed two more defenders of international calibre in Woodgate and Upson, and with a place in the Europa League proper looking likely, these are exciting times for City.
But with their squad likely to be stretched like never before and a tricky start to their league campaign, it’s a critical season in the history of the club. Expect more ups than downs if Pulis manages to pull off the mooted transfers of Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch from Tottenham. A mid-table finish and another decent cup run would represent another season of progress for the Potters.
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