With the transfer window now firmly shut, the dust has settled on what hasn’t been an overly busy period for the Potters. As we have learned from transfer windows gone by, it isn’t always quantity over quality. In Stoke’s case, less is more this time around – or is it? I take a look at what the window wrap-up brings to the team sheet.
The transfer window, and deadline day in particular, often sparks debate among fans. Arguably more so than at any other point in the season, everyone has their own opinion.
Activity, or lack thereof, can have a massive impact on supporter satisfaction before a ball has even been kicked. Owners get blamed, managers get scrutinised…it isn’t always a happy ending.
For Stoke, this summer’s deadline day brought a sense of what was needed, rather than what was wanted.
Stoke found themselves going into this international break at the bottom of the table. One point from three games providing only two goals.
It was clear that Mark Hughes required more firepower. Mame Biram Diouf and Peter Crouch have struggled to hit the target so far this season. Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri are looking slightly lethargic after their prolonged season ending with Euro 2016.
Stoke need a source of goals, a fox-in-the-box type player. Wednesday’s loan capture of Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony was a sign Hughes was aware of what was needed. Bony was in prolific form for Swansea City before his move to the Etihad.
Many questioned the switch, with Bony scoring 26 in 54 games for the Swans. For the Citizens however, only six goals in 36 appearances. No points for guessing who was keeping him out of their side.
The move is great for both parties. Stoke need an extra edge up front, and Bony needs to play football.
Stoke shoring it up at the back
Joe Allen’s arrival brought the average of an aging midfield down. Charlie Adam, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters are now all over 30. Allen’s ability to get up and down the pitch, pick a pass, all while being defensively reliable made him a solid addition. Money well spent.
Philipp Wollscheid’s departure to his native Germany left a hole in the back four. With Glen Johnson not yet quite ready to return from injury, options for cover were lacking.
Dutch international Bruno Martins Indi was announced on deadline day – the experienced centre-half being unveiled on a season long-loan from FC Porto.
With right-back Johnson close to returning, Hughes still has six viable first-team defensive options. Indi will presumably slot straight in alongside captain Ryan Shawcross.
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With the rest of the back-line relatively settled, the versatile Geoff Cameron will likely operate in reserve. His ability to drop in anywhere in the defence being a valuable asset to Hughes during a long season.
Veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant also arrived late, a loan move from Derby bringing experience to a largely youthful pool of stoppers.
With Jack Butland’s return date still unknown, Grant will no doubt be employed to cover for fellow journeyman Shay Given.
How will Stoke look come Saturday?
So with the new additions, how will Mark Hughes set up for Saturday’s potentially tricky home tie with an out-of-sorts Spurs?
It may look something like this, reverting back to a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Defence: Bardsley, Martins Indi, Shawcross, Pieters
Defensive Midfield: Allen, Imbula
Attacking Midfield: Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic
Subs: Grant, Cameron, Muniesa, Adam, Walters, Whelan, Diouf
Of course with the arrival of Bony, it is likely Diouf or Crouch will have to make way. With loan rumours surrounding Crouch over the transfer period, I suspect he may be the one to make way.
It remains to be seen how the side will now be deployed with the additions. One thing is for sure, it is hard to argue that the club haven’t done too bad with who they have brought in.