This past Saturday, Stoke City picked up their first three points from the second half of the season with a 2-1 win over Bristol City — The win now moves The Potters up the table and places the club at 17th in the Championship with 29 points.
For Stoke City against Bristol City, the winning recipe wasn’t an overly complicated one. But, the club’s game plan did involve a simple tactic that led the team to victory and could help The Potters find more success in attack moving forward.
Putting Pressure on Bristol City’s Backline
Per fbref, Stoke City’s overall xG (expected goals) on Saturday wasn’t great. The Potters against The Robins only managed to create a mere 0.6 xG on the day. That ties Stoke City for the fourth lowest xG total they’ve accumulated in a match this season.
But even with that low expected goals number, The Potters still managed to scratch across two goals against Bristol City. So how did they do it, when analytical data is pointing towards non-threatening attacks from Stoke City? The answer lied in simply putting pressure on The Robins defensively by putting the ball into the 18-yard box.
Too many times this season Stoke City have been stuck in build-up play near midfield and not testing teams enough by getting the ball into the 18-yard box. That wasn’t the case however on Saturday against Bristol City.
How Stoke City Managed to Apply More Pressure on Opposing Defenders
The Potters on Saturday with both goals scored, did what they needed to do the rest of the season, which is sometimes just put the ball into the 18-yard box to put pressure on opposing defenders and test opposing clubs backlines..
Whether it be a perfect cross into the box or a sloppy pass, getting the ball into the 18-yard box makes defenders have to defend the ball. One small mistake or misstep from opposing defenders in those instances can lead to the ball finding the back of the net.
And for Stoke City, that’s exactly what happened on the road against The Robins. Two of the occasions Stoke City applied pressure in the match by simply getting the ball into the 18-yard box, Bristol City failed to make a play on the ball — Both times subsequently Bristol City failed to clear their lines, it resulted in Stoke City goals.
Bottom line is every fan, coach, or player loves to see the flashy perfect passes or plays that result in goals. But sometimes the non-flashy choice of just putting the ball into a dangerous area of the pitch, can be the best choice.
For Stoke City, it’s an attacking recipe that worked this past Saturday and needs to continue moving forward. Even if there’s matches where Stoke City fail to link-up perfectly throughout the 90 minutes, they can still sometimes find results by putting pressure on teams backlines by passing or crossing the ball into the 18-yard box.
It’s a simple (and one might say age old) tactic, but it’s a very effective one that puts pressure on opposing defenders.