Adam Davies should be starting for Stoke
Adam Davies should be in the starting eleven for the Potters for their season opener against Millwall. The Welsh international has been nothing short of outstanding for the Stoke since the end of the 2019/20 season and seems to have extended his form through the Carabao Cup and early pre-season friendlies.
This, of course, would be a huge blow to Jack Butland who has been a mainstay in the lineup for years, and at one time seemed to be destined for regular Premier League and international minutes. It’s hard to say what exactly has gone so wrong with Butland recently. Perhaps the best answer is a mix of things – instability of managers at Stoke, a leaky and constantly changing back line, and a lack of stability in formation. Take your pick on the specific reason, but its undeniable that Butland has looked out of place and nothing has confirmed that more than the refreshingly stoic play of Adam Davies.
Last season Stoke finished towards the bottom in most goalkeeping stats. Stoke yielded 1.48 goals/90 last season which was seventh worst in the Championship. An even more alarming stat – they finished with just a .618 team save percentage which was fourth worst in the Championship. For the bulk of these stats Stoke had Butland in net as Davies came on late in the season. Davies late season run helped Stoke rattle off wins against Birmingham, Brentford, Nottingham Forrest, and a draw vs. Bristol. This run of form for Davies seemed to settle down the Potters and you could make a legitimate argument that Davies is the reason the Potters avoided relegation. His style is simply solid. Davies makes the saves he should make and is a calming presence on crosses and also while playing the ball. The same just cannot be said about Butland right now and should force Stoke to start the season with Davies in net.
So what to do with Butland? It is no secret that Jack is set to leave the club at the end of the 2020/21 season as he has indicated he is unwilling to sign a new contract. Since Stoke has yet to deal the keeper during the summer window, Butland could be in for his first season in years where he does not see a majority of playing time. This will be bittersweet for Stoke fans as Butland has been a mainstay in the lineup for years and had aspirations of being England’s starting keeper and a Premier League star.
The best outcome for this season would be a healthy competition for playing time between Butland and Davies with O’Neill running with the in-form keeper.