Just how bad has Sam Vokes been this season?

Just how bad has Sam Vokes been this season?

I know it seems unfair to continue to pile on Sam Vokes after his missed penalty in Tuesday’s loss against Cardiff, but I think fans deserve a place to vent their frustration – this is that place. It’s no secret Vokes has had an awful season so far. He’s yet to score in league play, has zero assists, and anyone watching Stoke this year know that the squad is just less dynamic and creative with him in the lineup. We know this. But before going  too deep on the Vokes dissent, I think it’s only fair if we take a closer look at the stats.

Since joining Stoke from Burnley for 8.8mil in January 2019 , Vokes has made 65 appearances across all competitions for Stoke City. During that time, he’s logged 12 goals and 3 assists for the Potters. Vokes has also, not to rub it in, missed two penalties for Stoke despite going 9/9 in penalties for Burnley in league play. Vokes’ only goal this season has come in the EFL Cup against Aston Villa.

In search for some kind of positive stat for Vokes this year, I discovered that he does lead Stoke in shots/90 and shots on target/90. Despite his inability to finish, he does seem to generate shots, though I’m assuming many of these are coming from relatively easy to save headed attempts.

While this season overall is clearly bad, I think it’s only fair to put this in perspective with his Burnley career. Vokes actually had some very productive years for Burnley especially from 2013-17 where he had three double-digit goal seasons, one of which (2016-17) came in the Premier League.

Despite this success, his decline was clearly already starting to take hold before Stoke acquired him. In the two seasons prior to joining Stoke, his goals/90 in league play started to move in the wrong direction. While there are other metrics we could use to evaluate Vokes, he’s clearly in the lineup to score, so the goals/90 stat is relevant.

SeasonGoals/90
2013-140.53
2014-150.00 *only 5 starts
2015-160.39
2016-170.44
2017-180.36
2018-190.31 (combined)
2019-20200.26
2020-210.00

 

Vokes clearly had some productive seasons, and for a time was actually a reliable scorer both in the Championship and fleetingly in the Premier League. That time seems to be over now, and his role at this point is really not more than a veteran substitute target-man. While I do applaud his compete-level at times, especially in Stoke’s recent win against Wycombe, his presence more often than not just deflates creativity.

Going forward, if Stoke are going to continue to use a 4-2-3-1 formation, they should be looking for another option up front. Since Fletcher has cemented his role, Stoke need a reliable backup who can keep up with players like Campbell/Powell/McClean. As of right now, I would place this need at the top of the list heading into the January transfer window.