Three ways to back your team: Stoke City
Potters have a tough season ahead
Stoke City finished in the unlucky 13th position last season, ending with a record of 11 wins, 11 draws and 16 defeats. They seemed to hold their own for much of the campaign, before faltering towards the end, but it’s worth noting both Crystal Palace in 14th and Swansea in 15th won more matches.
Mark Hughes needs his side to be a lot more ruthless this year, as only Manchester United and Middlesbrough drew more matches. It has been a tough summer for fans, with headlines concentrating on players going out, rather than new faces coming in. Here’s three ways to back Stoke City this season.
Bottom-half finish expected
The Potters lost star man Marko Arnautovic to West Ham in July. The club tried their best to hold on to the Austrian forward, but in the end the player’s head was turned by the London side and the £20m brought in goes down as a decent bit of business. Hughes will be hoping all of it, and a bit more too, will be reinvested into the playing squad, but that remains to be seen. There’s no doubt he needs reinforcements. They did sign Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma on a season-long loan, Mark Hughes calling the Frenchman one of the most talented young players in the game. Zouma played 13 times for The Blues last term, and has turned out twice for his country. Everyone connected to Stoke will hope he can help tighten up a defence that leaked 56 goals in 38 games last season. Our traders expect another bottom-10 finish, and price that as a 4/11 shot.
Stoke 7/1 to be relegated
We’re fast approaching the new season, but there’s still plenty of time left in the transfer window for Hughes to attract the players needed to improve on last term. Will he get the cash needed to attract a good standard of player, and will he get the names he wants? There are still too many questions hanging over Stoke at this point in the summer, and that will be a worry for supporters. Selling Arnautovic will help balance the books, but there’s no getting away from the fact they’ve lost a good player to a rival. Bringing in new recruits on loan isn’t ideal either. Zouma is supremely talented, but his loyalties lie with the champions. Our boys don’t think they’ll be relegated, but we don’t have quite as much confidence in The Potters. 7/1 deserves a second look. They’re as tight as 1/16 to stay up.
Potters to finish higher than West Brom
Why not spice up your enjoyment of the season with a match bet? Coral are offering a number of options for every top-flight side. The Potters have been matched with some decent opponents, and all you have to do is say if they will finish higher or lower than another side. It doesn’t matter where in the league the two teams end, as long as Stoke pick up more points. Will they do better than Midlands club West Brom? There’s 4/5 on offer that they will, while The Baggies are 10/11 to win that race. That should give you an interest lasting much of the season. There’s even money at the time of writing on them using that £20m wisely to finish higher in the final pecking order than West Ham.