The Christmas period didn’t deliver the run of results Stoke City supporters had hoped for and they have been vocal in their frustration. What’s the mood like at the bet365 Stadium?
In the stands, impatience is probably the polite way of putting it. In the changing room they are frustrated, too; they’ve had a lot of possession in a lot of games without creating too many goalscoring chances, and they haven’t been clinical enough at putting their chances away. Also, at the other end of the pitch, they haven’t been ruthless enough when dealing with the opposition. In a nutshell, there’s a lot of frustration bubbling at this moment in time.
Stoke seem to have a real inability to kill off games. What do you put this down to?
Well, they went through 2018 without scoring three goals in a game and it was the first time Stoke had done that since the 19th century. That serves as an indicator that, even when they are on top, they can’t kill teams off. It’s not just a matter of putting games to bed when they are winning - they’ve also struggled to come from behind as well.
How has Ryan Woods – whose loan move from Griffin Park is set to turn permanent this month - fared so far?
He made a huge impact when he came in because Stoke had been missing a player who could play that role since they sold Glenn Whelan, who was a club hero, two years ago. He came in from Brentford in the summer and has been a fantastic link between the defence and the rest of the team. Woods has admitted himself that he hasn’t been able to keep up that form and the fans have been clamouring for a change in formation. They are playing three in midfield, with Woods, Sam Clucas and Joe Allen, but they haven’t quite hit it off yet. On paper, it looks as though they have a really strong midfield, but in practice they are yet to dominate.
Will the club be looking to add any new faces to the squad this month?
They need someone who can start scoring goals – that much is obvious - but they have spent big money on Benik Afobe and Saido Berahino; the former of whom becomes a permanent Stoke player this month for £12.5m. They need to get more out of the players they’ve already got. Stoke do need more pace and will be looking for that at both ends of the pitch in the shape of a quick defender and a quick forward.
Who is the in-form player in the Stoke squad?
I’d say that would be one of Tom Ince or Joe Allen, at the moment. Stoke are reliant on Ince; he’s been the main creator and the driving force in the team so far. Ince is the guy they look towards to make something happen, while Allen has been a ball of energy in midfield. No one can accuse him of hiding when the going gets tough because he’s everywhere.
What’s your score prediction for Stoke’s first visit to West London since March 2002?
I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.
For the full chat with Pete plus interviews with Julian Jeanvier and Dennis Heath, pick up a copy of BEES around Griffin Park on Saturday for just £3.50.
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