Stoke City Friendly vs Newcastle Recap
The potters kept up their positive momentum to start the season as they took down Newcastle 1-0 on Saturday at St. James’ Park. A header from Sam Clucas in the 18th minute was all Stoke needed to hold off the Magpies. This victory followed-up a mid-week win over recently promoted Leeds, making it two straight wins over Premier League sides.
With the match not available to stream, fans were left with extended highlights. The most noticeable thing to try and examine from the match was formation.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) September 5, 2020
After some deciphering based on the number order lineup, Stoke went with a 3-4-1-2:
- 3 at the back with Martins-Indi, Batth, and Chester
- 4 across with Fox, Clucas, Mikel, and Smith
- 2 up top with Gregory and Vokes
It was nice to O’Neill have success with another formation against a quality side. From the highlights, it was clear that a Powell really thrives in this role. Having Mikel sitting behind, winning tackles and getting the ball at his feet is a sound strategy. In addition, having two up front for Powell to target just makes this strategy more dangerous. It’s clear that O’Neill realizes the talent we have in Powell and it’s encouraging to see a formation that gets the most out of the player.
It was also clear that when we defend and the wings come back to help, having forwards that can win headers and hold the ball as we transition forward is something Stoke are really well suited for. In fact, Clucas’ header that put us ahead was sprung from a quick transition made possible by a Vokes holding play. The final cross from Smith and finish by Clucas were quality, but none of it happens without the hold by Vokes.
Tommy Smith looked like he was beat out wide a few times and was put forced to make some dangerous tackle attempts. Not sure if he has the overall pace to be a true wing back in this formation, the same can probably be said of Morgan Fox. Both players are probably much more comfortable with a 4 at the back formation.
John Obi Mikel looked good from the highlights. Such a straightforward player will really help stoke this year. He just gives so much more stability in the midfield and despite his age, he still looked fit for the job. If all he is asked to do is sit in front of our defenders, win tackles, and make clean transition passes, Stoke will really have an asset this season in Mikel.
Getting a win to finish up the friendlies is tremendous, especially against Premier League talent. Stoke have to be feeling confident going into their season opener against Millwall on Saturday.