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Premier League Countdown - Stoke City
Published : 02 Aug 2010 16:07:15
Football.co.uk continues its club-by-club countdown to the start of the of the new Premier League season with a look at Stoke City.
Last season - 11th
After avoiding the drop in their debut Premier League season, Stoke defied the critics once again by comfortably retaining their top-flight status.
With the help of a raucous home crowd and Rory Delap's ridiculously long throw, the Potters bombarded their way to a mid-table finish.
Off the field problems involving star striker James Beattie threatened to derail their season around Christmas, but boss Tony Pulis helped retain the excellent work ethic and team spirit which has served them so well.
Matthew Etherington, Ryan Shawcross and Ricardo Fuller starred for much of the season, while new signings Robert Huth and Tuncay showed glimpses of what's to come.
In Florent Cuvelier (Portsmouth, Undisclosed), Carlos Nash (Everton, free)
Out Andy Griffin (Reading £250,000), Steve Simonsen (Sheffield United, Free), Nathaniel Wedderburn (Northampton Town, Free), Diego Arismendi (Barnsley, Loan), Ibrahima Sonko (Portsmouth, Loan), Amdy Faye (Released) Player to watch Football.co.uk verdict Prediction – 13th
Player to watch Matthew Etherington
Now reformed after his addiction to gambling, Etherington has revived his career at Stoke.
The former West Ham man refound his best form last season, proving a constant attacking threat for a side sometimes devoid of pace and flair.
His ability to take on opponents and both create and score goals will be vital if Stoke are to continue their progression.
With Pulis yet to really dip into the transfer market this summer, Stoke might struggle to keep up with those spending money around them.
The players they've lost will not affect the make-up of the starting XI, but some new faces are needed to freshen up a squad which sometimes relies too heavily on physicality.
A new striker and central midfielder could mean a push for the top ten but otherwise they look set for nothing more than comfortably avoiding the drop.
Prediction - 13th