Are you tired of Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting up top? Not feeling Peter Crouch starting every game? Well, join the club.
Mark Hughes hinted that he might bring in another striker option in January, possibly via loan.
All Stoke fans can say is hallelujah and pray for the god of strikers to plop down one of them. The frustration among the supporters about Choupo-Moting is evident.
The Cameroonian has been the featured man up top for Hughes’ starting eleven for the majority of the season. However, he just feels off up there. He lacks the killer instinct required for the striker up top. It is clear that he is really a natural left wing, as he excelled in that exact position while he was in Germany. All of his top-scoring seasons actually came from the left side, so why not stick him there? Hughes did feature Choupo-Moting at the left forward position last game, so it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Peter Crouch has made two starts so far this season, and have been quite effective. To be fair, that should not come as a shocker to anyone who watched him play all season and win headers after headers. Nevertheless, the Englishman is finally getting his chances, and it is paying off. However, as great as Crouchie is in winning headers, there is no denying that he is a rather one-dimensional player. He lacks the physicality and speed for the Premier League games, which is a hard thing to demand to a 36-year old footballer past his prime. He is an excellent choice as a difference maker off the bench, but the good old Crouchie cannot sustain this level of play.
I’m not entirely sure what Saido Berahino is doing at the moment. The former Golden Boy is nowhere to be found. Stoke City splashed out 12.5 million pounds for him, but he’s been riding the bench. In fact, the last appearance was a month ago against Bury in the EFL Cup. He has not started a league match since September. What is the issue? Perhaps he has not impressed in the training. Perhaps it’s because he has yet to score. Whatever it is, he clearly isn’t the answer. Can we get our money back?
Mame Biram Diouf could be the answer. When Hughes FINALLY implemented a 4-4-2 against Liverpool, Diouf looked the best up top. It’s as if he is a natural striker. The Senegalese is a lively, physical presence on the pitch that can make a difference if given a chance. Why play players in different positions to fit the scheme that is not working, when you don’t even have the right personnel? As long as the manager continues to play an ill-fitting 3-4-2-1, Diouf won’t get his shot.
This brings us to… No one. At least no one in the club at the moment. January isn’t exactly the best time to bring permanent reinforcements, as they are often unavailable. That is why Hughes is looking to bring in a loan striker to give a little spark to the team. However, the manager must look in the mirror and wonder if it’s his tactics that is giving everyone the fits.
As I mentioned above, Hughes insisted on riding the trend and employing the three-back formation. While it proved to be god-sent for teams like Chelsea, they had the right personnel. Wingbacks like Marcos Alonso played in the similar system for years in Fiorentina. Victor Moses was a happy accident. Along with hard-working midfielders like Kante and an organized, potent front three, they made the system work. Conte referred to himself as a tailor for the team. Hughes is in an ill-fitting suit. That’s a story for another day.
Nevertheless, Stoke has yet to find the striker that is reliable to even build a system around. Perhaps it is time to bring someone in to save the Potters.