September’s All Stoked Up Roundtable: The heroes and villains

Joe Allen celebrates his goal at Old Trafford as Stoke look to end September and turn a corner in their season. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Joe Allen celebrates his goal at Old Trafford as Stoke look to end September and turn a corner in their season. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

September was predominantly a month to forget. Let’s be honest. From a Stoke fan’s point of view, conceding eight goals in the months first two games was rather embarrassing. I sit down with fellow All Stoked Up writer, Garry Welsh, to highlight the best and worst of a stormy September.

Many of the collective team performances thus far this season have been far from acceptable. Although to his credit, Mark Hughes has made no bones over his disappoint on his team’s showing.

Despite a very much sub-par return from the side as a collective, there must surely be some positives to come from it all…right?

This monthly review asked writers to identify their stand-out; a needle in a haystack. One player in particular who has gone against the grain of the rest of the squad.

In a second part of the review, heading to the other end of the spectrum, a player who has not been at the races.

Let’s get to the opinions…

Which Stoke City player wins your player of the month?

Garry Welsh: The lack of options to answer this is astonishing and there are nowhere near enough players standing up to be counted.

But, I have to give my vote to Joe Allen.

Since his arrival from Liverpool, Allen has shown desire and commitment. His work rate is incredible and the guy seems tireless.

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I think a lot of the Welshman’s performances are down to Mark Hughes. Hughes typically deploys Allen higher up the pitch than Brendan Rodgers did at Liverpool.

At Anfield, Allen was more of a holding player and wasn’t given the licence to roam and dictate from a ‘number 10’ position and his ability to pick a pass and unlock a defence has been hiding from his game for a long time, but Hughes has seen a way of getting the best from him.

His stamina and hunger to get on the ball allow him to press higher up the pitch at stop the ball coming forward from the back.

Easy choice for me, this month.

Jack Dudley: I think I have to agree with Garry, here. Again, mainly due to a lack of options.

It would be harsh to take anything away from Allen and there is no questioning his ‘want’ to be effective on the pitch.

His hunger and desire to be the catalyst or the one to change the game is admirable. Allen seems to go about his business quietly, but undoubtedly does a job.

Again, his ability to get forward more and prove his ability to threaten opposition defences will only keep improving.

Allen regularly shows that he was played in the wrong position at Liverpool; more and more often we are seeing his ability to strike a ball from distance. He is also able to pick a pass to slip and teammate in, or spread the play completely.

Who needs to forget September and start stepping up their game?

Garry Welsh: I could make a case for every individual, but I’m only allowed to choose one.

Perhaps most noticeably for me so far this season – based on last – is the disappearance of Marko Arnautovic.

I don’t know why, or how, but the guy just is not where he was at all last campaign. Shots are ambitious and are often wayward. His mazy runs and ability to take defenders on seems to have taken a hit.  His crossing is also not as sharp as it was.

I know confidence is lacking through the whole side right now, but those who were so effective last season, such as the Austrian, need to be the role models through this tough patch.

Arnautovic has scored one goal in nine games in the league this season. While that return isn’t atrocious, he is falling behind his average of one in every three last season.

Jack Dudley: Any of the back four could be considered for this, as well as the goalkeeper.

The defence hasn’t been at the races at all so far this season, neither has much of the midfield.

My vote is going to have to go to Wilfried Bony; he seems lazy, lethargic and uninterested.

Brought in on a summer deadline day loan move from Manchester City, the Ivorian was expected to be the answer to the Potters’ stuttering forward line and bring in some competition and fire amongst the attacking players in the side.

Since his arrival, though, Bony has been rather underwhelming this September.

The move was commonly agreed to have been a good one for both parties. Bony was going to get first-team football, while Stoke were hoping he would re-emulate his form at Swansea City.

Of course, Bony is massively short on confidence and one would feel that he needs to score soon. He is yet to find the net after four matches for the Potters.

He needs to stay patient and put his chances away when he can and I am confident the goals for him and the team will come.